Reaction from industry
Speaking to Payload Asia on the sidelines of the FIATA World Congress 2011 in Cairo, FIATA chairman of the Advisory Body on Security Matters, David Fielder said the ACAS came about as part of collaboration with industry. “Now the TSA is moving towards a risk-based approach, which is what everybody has wanted all along”. While acknowledging that the initial trials are being done with express carriers in fairly ideal locations, he says this will move on to other more ‘real world’ locations and environments shortly. “But overall it’s a positive move with industry talking with government and vice versa and it’s in line with the screening which is done at different locations and primarily taking a risk-based approach,” he said. As to how successful it will be, only time will tell he added, “but certainly the indications are that it is a positive move and from all accounts should be successful.” “It’s a positive move when the administration is talking to industry and coming towards a risk based approach – that has got to be a positive move and I think it should be encouraged” he added. But not all are happy with this new direction due to fears that the lead time for building up and tendering cargo pallets will need to be extended because of the need for the information to be submitted and analysed. In particular, Hong Kong forwarders, which ship nearly 95 per of cargo on built-up pallets, have major concerns. Speaking on behalf of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Limited (HAFFA), the association’s chairman Paul Tsui said the key problem revolves around the fact forwarders must send the required data and get approval from the TSA four hours before flight departure. This he said, means forwarders need to have the shipment much earlier than four hours – likely 6-10 hours in advance depending on the response time from TSA. “This means the lead time of receiving the shipment willl have to be prolonged and this will disrupt all of the loading procedures until the forwarder gets the green light from the TSA,” he said. Additionally, he highlighted that the programme involves not only passenger flights, but will eventually be extended to all-cargo carriers as well. “In the case of Hong Kong, if you have several shipments that require consolidation under the dead freight arrangement with carriers, and all of a sudden one of them has to go through X-ray scanning, then the forwarder needs to get the scanning done at the airport and thus the pallets will have to be loaded by the cargo terminal operator (CTO) instead of at the forwarder’s warehouse,” and this he says “is not a good arrangement”. Tsui highlighted that in Hong Kong currently, fully loaded pallets are being tendered to the CTO two hours before flight departure meaning the shipper can deliver shipments to forwarders in as short as four hours before flight departure. As a result he says, “the ACAS will likely reduce our competitiveness and also increase the overall costing.” Tsui said he has been in discussions with the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and Transport Housing Bureau to voice the forwarders’ concerns. In the meantime Tsui said he intends to discuss the issue with the wider membership of the Federation of Asia Pacific Aircargo Associations (FAPAA) of which Tsui is also the current chairman. Meanwhile, the executive director, of FAPAA, Brian Lovell, said that as a newly developing programme that is still in its pilot stage, the issue has not been discussed among all 17 FAPAA member countries. “But now that we have been made aware of the ACAS development we feel that there are a number of issues that we would need to consider closely in terms of potential delays to cargo movement and it appears that Hong Kong has particular concerns , but haven’t surveyed the countries in the rest of the region to determine if they are common concerns ,or whether it’s an issue pertaining only to Hong Kong.” But Lovell added: “While we are concerned it might result in some delays, if it alleviates the need for 100 per cent screening by its targeting effect, then it might have a benefit all around. We are encouraged that it now appears that from an almost non-negotiable, no discussion type of scenario, we now have an organisation that is prepared to understand that trade and commerce needs to move at the pace that it moved before there was the imposition of strict and stringent security measures. So we hope that we can continue that dialogue and come to an agreement whereby their security needs are met and the needs of forwarder to move the goods on behalf of the customer are met also.