TSA change causes cargo fury

ANGER greeted the US’ Transport Security Administration’s (TSA) representative, Warren Miller, this week over the TSA’s latest emergency amendment that has seen airlines have to freeze cargo shipments to the US.

Miller was attending a security panel at the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul and, once again having been abandoned by Doug Britten to run the gauntlet of the airfreight industry alone, suffered the combined fury of airline cargo executives and their objection at the timing of the amendment.

The amendment was issued late on Friday afternoon (4 March) and Saturday morning when most executives and managers were on their way home and gave a deadline for compliance of the following Thursday (10 March).

Air Canada led the chorus of protest saying it will not be able to ship any cargo to the US until it can ensure compliance.

“The US Transport Security Administration has issued an emergency amendment to security measures which will take effect 10 March 2011,” Air Canada said in a statement, which was later retracted. “Given the short notice it will not be possible for us to implement the necessary measures to ensure compliance and as a result, we are required to embargo all cargo flown to the US [until further notice].”

TSA is keeping quiet on the matter, only going as far as to release a formal statement saying it has tightened existing air cargo security for flights to the US due to last year’s terrorist attempt to ship explosives aboard an aircraft.

A fresh wave of widespread concerns centres on the fact that TSA may be unable to meet the deadline set by the US Congress to screen all air cargo for bombs or hazardous materials by the end of the year.

Now a new Government Accountability Office report states there is no technology approved or qualified by TSA to screen cargo once it is loaded onto a pallet or container, both of which are common means of transporting domestic air cargo on passenger aircraft. This leaves doubt over air carriers’ ability to effectively screen air cargo on such aircraft.

The air cargo industry waits with bated breath.

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