MEMPHIS (Reuters) - Monday night was the year's busiest for FedEx Corp, with its Memphis facility receiving, sorting and spitting out 1.7 million packages in 3-1/2 hours, the highest volume of any of the shipper's hubs.
The company is forecasting an 8 percent increase in peak day volume amid the nascent economic recovery. It also recently announced an increase in its expectations for quarterly profit.
Both FedEx and rival United Parcel Service Inc handle such a huge chunk of the world's shipping that economists consider them bellwethers.
Below are some facts and figures about FedEx' Memphis air hub -- its biggest and one of 10 worldwide -- and its holiday business.
FedEx handles 7.5 million packages on an average day and almost twice that on its peak day. About 13 million shipments hit the system on December 14, its busiest day of 2009.
A FedEx package is scanned up to 18 times between intake and delivery.
On an ordinary night, the company flies five empty planes it calls "sweepers" to assist with unexpected volume surges, mechanical failures or inclement weather. On peak night, it flew eight.
Because at least one FedEx plane is always in the air at any moment, the company staffs at least one of a team of 15 meteorologists round-the-clock at the Memphis hub.
More than 15,000 people work at the Memphis facility.
The hub's automated systems can sort up to 500,000 packages an hour.
It has more than 300 miles of conveyor belts spread across 500 acres.
A FedEx Express plane touched down every 48 seconds on Monday.
FedEx is one of the largest airlines in the world and has 660 jets. The largest is Delta Air Lines, followed by AMR Corp, parent of American Airlines.
Every FedEx plane bears the name of an employee's child painted on the side. The child is selected by lottery.
The average FedEx flight carries 110,000 pounds of cargo and takes 25 minutes to unload.
FedEx uses more than 1 billion gallons of jet fuel annually.
Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Phil Berlowitz