FEDEX REVAMP IN ASIA SPEEDS ITS SERVICE TO NORTH AMERICA

FEDEX REVAMP IN ASIA SPEEDS ITS SERVICE TO NORTH AMERICA

Shippers in Southeast Asia and their customers in Japan and North America will get more and faster avenues of delivery with a regional expansion of services by Federal Express Corp.

The carrier is also set to begin service from southern China in October and will offer the first direct access to Japan from Taiwan.While acknowledging that currency fluctuations in the region may continue for a time, ''much of what we carry is high-value shipments produced by overseas companies exporting to global markets. Asia continues to be a strong base for offshore manufacturers,'' said Mike Ducker, Asia-Pacific president of FedEx.

A service inaugurated Friday from the regional hub at Subic Bay north of Manila links Cebu in the center of the Philippines with Jakarta and Singapore. An Airbus Industrie A-310 makes the run five times a week.

''This is good for Cebu, a strong industrial area, but even better for Jakarta,'' said David Clarke, FedEx regional spokesman. ''It is our first own aircraft into Indonesia and gives us greater control than using commercial partners.

''It also gets into Singapore before the nightly departure from there of our SuperX service to Japan and Memphis, meaning goods can be delivered in the United States next day.

''This is unheard of for Southeast Asia. No one else is doing that,'' Mr. Clarke said Friday. ''The service also benefits Japanese companies, which have a lot of investment in Southeast Asian manufacturing.''

SuperX, which was introduced last July, uses a converted MD-11 from Singapore on what FedEx says is the world's longest single flight - from Osaka direct to Memphis.

Subic, the former U.S. naval base, is the hub for Asia One, with 14 ''spokes'' covering all main business centers in the Asia-Pacific. The daily Subic-U.S. flight goes with the full 50-ton capacity.

FedEx, a unit of FDX Corp. of Memphis, is also looking to beef up its services from the booming southern region of China. The flight from Shenzhen, a special economic zone adjacent to Hong Kong, will go via Shanghai to Anchorage.

Hong Kong also gets a boost, with a third aircraft joining the roster. The Airbus A-310 joins a sister plane on the Hong Kong-Subic run and an MD-11 from the McDonnell Douglas unit of Boeing Co., operating Hong Kong-Anchorage.

From August, the additional flight will run from Hong Kong via Taipei and Osaka in Japan to Oakland, Calif. Cutoff times were adjusted in both Hong Kong and Taipei to allow late-night departures.

That route allows next-day delivery on the U.S. West Coast because the flight in effect arrives before it leaves, thanks to the international dateline, landing at just before midnight Pacific time.

''Does all this mean we are expecting new business? We've already got it. The sales department was screaming for more capacity,'' Mr. Clarke said.

In the case of southern China, about 80 percent of manufacturing output from Guangdong province is shipped abroad from neighboring Hong Kong. ''The Shenzhen service means shippers won't have to truck things down to Hong Kong and allows us to balance our workload a bit better in Hong Kong,'' Mr. Clarke said.

Outbound, the calls will be Subic-Shenzhen-Shanghai-Anchorage with four frequencies a week. Coming back, the route is Anchorage-Beijing-Shanghai-Subic, also four times a week.

An existing service links Anchorage with Subic via Tokyo's Narita Airport, Beijing and Shanghai.

FedEx isn't allowed to do internal distribution within China, so relies on partners there.

Mr. Ducker said the company has no immediate plans to expand into central China, though he said it is an area that has capacity for growth in manufacturing. Chinese officials are striving to spread economic growth into the interior from the booming coastal areas.