Industry’s lobbying of government criticised

RECENT fears of poor air cargo security has meant the industry’s prior decision making and lobbying to prevent total screening is coming under attack.

For example, several newspapers around the world have drawn attention to how in 2004, when the Transportation Security Administration considered 100 per cent screening on all flights, the Cargo Airline Association persuaded it not to by claiming the threat of terrorism on freighters was minimal.

“As a practical matter, all-cargo aircraft operators today are permitted to accept freight from all persons and entities all over the world, including unknown shippers, precisely because of the lack of any credible threat to all-cargo aircraft,” the association said.

The media has also questioned how, in 2007, a group of air cargo organisations, that included IATA, the Air Transport Association, the Airforwarders Association and the Air Carrier Association of America wrote a letter to the then-Senate commerce committee chairman, Daniel Inouye, asking the committee “to resist the temptation to prescribe blanket standards and/or measures that cannot be met and that, in the end, will work counter to the common goal of ensuring the safety and security of all airline passengers and crews”.

Congressman Ed Markey (right) has long been an advocate of total screening, since the 9/11 attacks. He complained loudly when his last attempt to introduce tougher regulations was stopped by, he said, “a very successful lobbying effort made by the cargo industry”. Expect more from him in 2011…

Of course, what the industry is lobbying for isn’t zero screening but a sustainable introduction of security measures that won’t bankrupt the industry or bring world trade to a screeching halt.

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