Air mail rates

Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi

In 1944-45, at the resumption of postal domestic and foreign service, only ordinary and registered letters and postcards up to 1 kilo for domestic were allowed; with different limits depending on the destination for abroad.
From March 15th, 1947 the transport of all kinds of correspondence for domestic and foreign purposes was allowed, with the same weight limits as for objects forwarded by surface. The ranges of weight were 5 grams for domestic, and 20 for the foreign, then reduced to 5.
From January 26, 1953, the differentiation between “letters and postcards” (LC) with steps of 5 grams, “other objects” (AO) with steps of 20 grams came into force. and newspapers (JX) with brackets of 30 gr.
On September 1st, 1959 the JX category was abolished, and AO ranges were increased to 30 g. From January 1st, 1966 the brackets of AO were raised to 50 g.
On January 1st, 1954 the air surcharge was suppressed for both Italy, Europe and LC and it was reintroduced on September 1st, 1961 for the whole continent, “if expressly requested by users”; but it was “in the faculty of Administration to carry out the transport by air of the aforementioned objects even without a surcharge, if their weight did not exceed 5 gr., compatibly with the availability of air vehicles and provided that it is deemed convenient for the purposes of the fastest forwarding. “
The definitive suppression (for LC) occurred first for Europe, and then for Italy. Foreign tariffs for LC (and aerogramma) items remained in effect until February 14, 2000, when the priority courier was extended to international service, replacing air mail. Instead, they are still in force for AOs, both for Europe and for the rest of the world.

1.3.1946. Different rates according to destination and route, from L. 5 for French Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, to L. 63 for Venezuela. These tariffs then had numerous variations in the amounts, in the destinations allowed, in the objects allowed and in the routes of forwarding; they are not registered here. Combinations began soon, not always maintained: already in May 1949 there were only 5 brackets for America, 3 for Africa, 3 for Asia and one for Oceania. The lowest rate was 25 L. for African Mediterranean countries, the highest 135 L. for Oceania countries. In March 1975 the lowest tariff was 15 L. for the Mediterranean countries, the highest of 150 L. for the French Southern and Antarctic lands.
On March 25, 1975, air fares for non-European countries were grouped together for continental areas (table below).
It is interesting to note the historical analogy between the international rates of ordinary letter, air mail and parcel. Before the creation of UPU, the international rates for the letter were regulated only by bi- or multilateral conventions between the contracting states, and therefore were different for each destination; they could also vary depending on the route chosen. With UPU, a single postal territory was established for the simple letter, i.e. a single tariff, since 1879.
When the revolutionary novelty of forwarding by air spread throughout the world in the late 1920s, the surcharges for this service again became very different depending on the destination, because they depended on mutual agreements, agreements with air carriers and from still other causes, and we had therefore returned to a situation of pre-UPU anarchy. Only after the war was it possible to gradually concentrate tariffs for large geographical areas, without yet arriving at a single global tariff, and the same situation also occurred for the international priority.
Parcel rates, on the other hand, have not yet reached this intermediate stage, and remain in the first ‘anarchic’ stage.