How improvements in deicing at a major cargo facility will help holiday package deliveries stay on time

Deicing planes not only removes frozen precipitation, it also prevents build-up of snow and ice on crucial parts of planes.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The opening of a $300-million-dollar deicing facility at the country's largest cargo hub could mean fewer delays for package deliveries during the busy shipping season.

The Memphis International Airport recently unveiled its new facility and said it can now simultaneously deice 12 wide-body cargo aircraft.

"This holiday season and every season, it's critical that American families and businesses get the goods they need when they need them," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a ribbon cutting at the facility. "Memphis International Airport is the biggest cargo airport in the country, and this innovative aircraft deicing facility is one of the many ways we're modernizing America's supply chains."

The Federal Aviation Administration said upgrades include message boards that'll direct airplanes to deicing bays, infrared cameras to guide workers, and the facility's prime location near the runways will allow planes to take off without having to undergo a second round of deicing while waiting for clearance.


Aviation experts say deicing is crucial to keep snow and other frozen precipitation off an aircraft.

If too much ice or snow accumulates on a plane, it can become heavy, and airflow, critical during take-offs and landings, can be disrupted, leading to an uncontrollable aircraft. 

FedEx has called the Memphis International Airport home for nearly five decades and is the company's largest shipping facility.

"We want to thank the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and Memphis International Airport for their support of this new Consolidated De-icing Facility – an example of how to deploy technology to improve operational efficiency," Richard W. Smith, president and CEO, FedEx Express said in a statement. "The timing could not be better as FedEx enters the busy holiday season. This facility is a shining example of how we can help ensure our team members are safely operating throughout the winter season as we deliver outstanding service for our customers."

The shipping company uses a fleet of nearly 700 planes, with many that have routes into and out of the busy Tennessee hub.

The airport said the upgrades have been in the works for nearly a decade and will also help keep commercial passenger jets on time during winter weather.


2022 holiday shipping guidelines

UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service are expected to handle billions of packages this holiday season and whether your deliveries arrive on time depends on weather conditions around the country.

With Christmas Day falling on a weekend, Hanukkah running from December 18 through the December 26 and Kwanzaa taking place during the last week of 2022, many holiday shipping deadlines are earlier than in previous years.

To avoid disruptions, the postal service advises all customers to ship gifts as early as possible and try to avoid the last-minute rush.

Since both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Sunday, the USPS will observe the federal holidays on Monday, December 26, and Monday, January 2, 2023, which could impact last-minute shippers.

Suggested send-by dates to get shipments to their destinations by December 25:

USPS recommended send-by dates (excluding Alaska & Hawaii)
Ground Service: Dec. 17
First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 17
Priority Mail Service: Dec. 19
Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 23

UPS recommended send-by dates
3-Day Select: Dec. 20
2nd Day Air: Dec. 21
Next Day Air: Dec. 22

FedEx recommended send-by dates 
Ground Economy: Dec. 8
Ground and Home Delivery: Dec. 14
Express Saver: Dec. 20
2-Day Shipping: Dec. 21
1-Day Freight & Extra Hours: Dec. 22
Same Day: Dec. 23