Postal service profits on service cuts

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Norway’s postal service (Posten Norge) is a shadow of its former self, after a wave of post office closures and major cuts in delivery service. It is, however, earning money.

Posten reported pre-tax profits last week of NOK 248 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of NOK 167 million in the same quarter in 2016. Profits for the full year amounted to NOK 621 million, up from 230 million the year before.

Annual revenues were steady, at NOK 24.6 billion last year. That’s due at least in part to another increase in postal rates, to NOK 21 (USD 3 at last year’s exchange rates) for an international air mail letter, for example. Letters are also more subject to monitoring for weight. If they’re even just over the weight limit of 20 grams, the receiver can be fined. That affected many standard Christmas cards during the recent holiday season, taking much of the joy out of sending or receiving holiday greetings.

Complaints continue over decisions, however, to abolish mail delivery on Saturdays and cut delivery to just three days a week in some areas. In Oslo, it took Posten a full week to deliver a first-class letter mailed on February 12 in Oslo’s Majorstua district to the Vika district. The letter was a written notice of a doctor’s appointment that fortunately had also been sent in the form of a mobile phone text message. The letter arrived in the post on Monday February 19, a few hours after the 8am appointment itself.

The postal service itself noted in its quarterly earnings report that it had undergone major restructuring in 2017. staff