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By Mark Pieper Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 12, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---The Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that it has eased restrictions for carrying U.S. mail on passenger flights.

The FAA instituted a rule after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, prohibiting commercial jetliners from carrying pieces of mail in excess of 16 ounces.

The easing of that restriction means that Guam residents who are in critical need of medical supplies can get those supplies through daily Express Mail.

"The FAA has lifted all (weight) restrictions on all Express Mail and all registered mail," said Felice Broglio, Postal Service spokeswoman for the Honolulu District, which includes Guam.

"We've also lifted all restrictions for international flights and we will once again start transporting live animals. However, that is contingent on the airlines and whether they accept (animals)."

Broglio said it is important to note that while restrictions have been lifted on express and registered mail, there are still weight restrictions on regular mail.

Those restrictions mean regular parcels still will be dependent on chartered Boeing 747s, which provide parcel service to and from Hawai‘i twice a week, the Postal Service said Wednesday.

Broglio also said the Postal Service has a clause in its contract with Continental Airlines that protects it from paying for unused services.

"We are only paying for what they are carrying," Broglio said. "So we didn't have to pay our usual rates (when the restrictions were imposed)."

Guam Postmaster General Tony San Nicolas said the island has waited anxiously for the restrictions to ease.

"There's a light at the end of the tunnel," San Nicolas said. "Basically, we'll have to wait and see where we'll go from here."

San Nicolas said delivery of local mail has not been affected and that volume has been low and mail is being delivered each day.

"Our commitment to local mail is still 24 hours," he said.

While the easing of off-island mail restrictions is a positive sign, at least one business owner says he continues to feel the effects of the restrictions.

"The restrictions have shaved the volume of my mail coming in," said Rick Castro, owner of Postal Annex, a mailbox rental service. "We've had a 50 percent volume drop and that has impacted my business in a very negative way."

Castro said that he has had to cut back on his hours of operation and has had to let go a part-time employee.

"Thank God for the customers, because they have remained loyal," Castro said. "But loyalty won't help when people don't have the services (because of restrictions) or the money to spend."

Ed Sung, who runs Shirley's Coffee Shops, said that his business has not really been affected by the mail restrictions.

"We were fortunate enough to receive much of (the supplies) we needed before the restrictions were imposed," Sung said.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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