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In 1965, Frederick W. Smith was asked to draw up a new business concept for his term paper at Yale University. The idea he submitted, for a safe way to deliver time-sensitive shipments, would set the blueprint for one of the largest delivery services in the world.
Within a decade of that university project, Smith launched Federal Express, the first overnight delivery company.
On its first night of continuous operation, the company, now known as FedEx, sent 14 jets to deliver 186 packages across 25 cities throughout the US. Just ten years later, in 1983, FedEx reported USD 1bn in revenue, making it the first US-based business to do so without merger or acquisition.
Over the years that followed, the company expanded operations to Europe and Asia, and has been in the Middle East via a Dubai operations centre since 1989.
Today, FedEx’s international service spans 1,950 locations across more than 220 countries. Its fleet of almost 700 planes, serving 650 airports, makes it one of the largest civil aircraft fleets and the largest full-service cargo airline in the world. And with an average of 16.5m packages delivered daily, it carries more freight than any other airline.
To offset this enormous transport network, FedEx is committed to ambitious sustainability targets. The firm aims to be carbon-neutral by 2040 and has invested USD 2bn in a range of energy-saving initiatives to achieve this objective. FedEx also plans to have an all-electric ground fleet by the same year.
FedEx’s delivery services are now just one arm of its growing portfolio. The company also offers shipment tracking software, website support, customer service portals and drop boxes. In all, this vast operation returns annual revenues of USD 93bn.