Amendment to the Postal Act threatens the survival of Österreichische Post AG
Pressemeldung from 7/4/2003
Company management asks for a catalogue of measures for fair competition
In the course of the amendment of the Postal Act on 3 July 2003, the Transport Committee of Parliament arrived at the opinion that the replacement of delivery boxes is to be implemented by 1 July 2006 already, and not by 1 January 2009 as proposed in the government bill. “De-facto” liberalisation is such introduced well ahead of the timeframes imposed by the EU.
For Österreichische Post AG, this step means a further deterioration of the unequal conditions of competition for the postal service and a dramatic advancement of liberalisation that is out of proportion. Whereas competitors deliver without quality controls and at fair prices in profitable conurbations, the postal service must deliver nationwide at a standard rate all over Austria, with stringent quality requirements applying.
As this absolutely uneven distribution of burdens generates higher costs and thus prices for the postal service as a universal service provider, the opening of the delivery boxes does not create equal conditions for all competitors, but implies a further deterioration to the disadvantage of the postal service and its staff.
Adding to the bleak economic outlook in general, the implementation of this provision will cause further drops in sales in the area of media services (newspapers, magazines) and info.mail. Considering these facts, economic survival within the framework of a stand-alone solution for Österreichische Post AG is difficult to ensure.
Given this new scenario, Österreichische Post AG has asked the Minister for Infrastructure to:
- call an immediate halt to the standard rate system for all services which are provided on a competitive basis – including newspapers and magazines;
- clarify immediately that the duty to deliver newspapers ends on 1 July 2006 and is no longer part of universal service provision from that date;
- introduce binding quality standards for all providers on the postal market as well as a licence system that is based on the German model, as well as fund models through which competitors contribute to the universal services. A licence system is a necessity, among other reasons because access to delivery boxes will lead to circumventions of the reserved area and will give rise to various quality and costumer complaints;
- thoroughly reform the employment regulations applying to spin-off companies by streamlining all outdated public-service provisions and introducing greater flexibility.
“This non-symmetric liberalisation which is now implemented earlier than planned instead of a responsible and step-by-step liberalisation at fair general economic and service-law conditions places yet another, massive burden on the company“ warns Anton Wais, CEO of Österreichische Post AG.
Given the foreseeable deterioration of its financial position, the postal service will have to re examine the financial viability of offensive measures and infrastructure schemes, as well as the acceleration of its restructuring efforts, and take appropriate action.
The advanced replacement of delivery boxes imposes an enormous financial strain on customers and/or house owners, although customers in particular have been favourable of retaining the old system. According to calculations by Österreichische Post AG, the cost of replacing 1.8 million delivery boxes in a period of less than 36 months will total € 70 to 100 million.
For more information please contact:
Österreichische Post AG
Press section/ PR
Tel.: +43 (1) 515 51 - 32012
Vienna, 4 July 2003