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Royal Mail today announced the last recommended posting dates for customers sending Christmas cards and gifts by airmail.
Wednesday 5 December is the latest recommended date for addresses in Asia, the Far East (including Japan), Australia and New Zealand.
Customers sending cards and gifts to destinations in South & Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East are advised to send these items by Friday 7 December.
The latest recommended date for Eastern Europe, the USA and Canada is Monday 10 December. For destinations in Western Europe the latest date for airmail cards and gifts is Wednesday 12 December.
The world’s first scheduled service for transporting mail by air took place in the United Kingdom on September 9, 1911. It celebrated the coronation of King George V, and saw cards and letters transported by air between Hendon in North London and Windsor in Berkshire. However, the UK’s first overseas airmail service began in 1918, and was a joint venture between the Royal Air Force and the British Army Post office. The route operated between Folkestone and Cologne.
By the early 1930s dedicated airmail post boxes were painted Air Force blue to set them apart from standard red post boxes. By 1936 there were 139 of these blue post boxes in London and 174 in other parts of the country. After World War II ended and airmail services were restarted, these blue post boxes were decommissioned as airmail could be posted from anywhere in the UK.
Today customers can send airmail items from around 11,000 Post Office branches and over 115,000 post boxes, to destinations all over the world.
An ‘airmail etiquette’ is the name given to the label used to indicate a letter for airmail. The term etiquette comes from a combination of the French meaning ‘label, sticker’ and the English translation ‘rules of behaviour’. Etiquettes are instructions for postal workers, so have no monetary value. An airmail etiquette does not need to be included if airmail stamps are used on the letter. In the UK customers can write “PAR AVION – BY AIR MAIL” on their envelope in place of the etiquette.
Royal Mail advises customers to post airmail items as early as possible to assist foreign postal services to cope with the large increase in mail volumes to destinations worldwide at Christmas.
In addition to noting the last recommended posting dates for airmail items, customers are also reminded to check the correct airmail postage rates before sending their cards and letters to ensure that all greetings arrive in good time for Christmas.
Full details of Royal Mail’s airmail services, including prices, can be found at http://www.royalmail.com/delivery/delivery-options-international/airmail.
Notes to Editors
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