Posties gear up for the Christmas rush


It’s all hands on deck as the Finnish Post prepares for the busiest season of the year. Trusted partner Finnair carries a heavy festive mailbag to and from the Arctic Circle.

The holiday season is traditionally a time for winding down, but not for Tom Sällström at Itella postal services. He and his team are responsible for the efficient handling and dispatch of all uplifted international items. In December they process two and a half times the usual daily volume of mail.

“As everyone knows, Santa Claus lives in Finland, so this is a hectic season for us. We’re working overtime to deliver all those cards and wish lists,” quips Sällström.

Itella recruits temporary staff to handle the over flow, but careful pre-planning is the key to coping with the seasonal glut, especially in the case of airlifted mail. Without Itella’s close partnership with Finnair, many Yuletide greetings would never make it in time for Christmas. 

Yuletide yen

Itella must report the exact amount of outgoing mail to ensure that Finnair loads the correct volume of cargo aboard each aircraft. The busiest Christmas mail destinations – and potential bottlenecks – are China, Tokyo and New York.

“Finnair is our key partner. We collaborate closely and meet regularly to analyze our mail allocation volumes,” says Sällström.

“Our ground handling agreement is a token of our trusted relationship. Itella’s own crew in Helsinki transports mail between the terminal and aircraft, which is a job usually handled by handling agent.”

Santa’s merry mailroom

Sällström can blame the world’s most popular pen pal for the overtime he clocks up every December. Santa receives over 620,000 letters a year from 198 countries around the world. His keenest pen friends are British, Italian, Polish and Finnish, but a growing legion of fans is emerging in unexpected destinations such as China and South Korea. Every year Santa’s elves send out 40,000 personal replies franked with a unique Arctic Circle postmark.

“Our customers can also pre-order a genuine letter from Santa Claus which is sent just before Christmas,” says Katja Tervonen (pictured), head of Santa’s Main Post Office near Rovaniemi airport on the Arctic Circle.

“For us it’s Christmas all year long. We have real elves working here every day of the year. In our fireside room we have an exhibition of letters and other items sent to Santa – come and visit us!”

Send a letter to Santa:
Santa Claus’ Main Post Office
Santa’s Workshop Village

Text by Silja Kudel
Photos by Eeva Puhakainen

Published November 30, 2011

Category: Collaboration, Local features, Finnair Cargo