TSA bails out on 100% screening deadline

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has told the air cargo industry it will not meet the 31 December deadline requiring inspection of 100 per cent of all air cargo on international passenger flights destined for the US.


CCSP TIACA TSA


TSA bails out on 100% screening deadline

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has told the air cargo industry it will not meet the 31 December deadline requiring inspection of 100 per cent of all air cargo on international passenger flights destined for the US. The TSA told the US Airforwarders Association that it would not enforce the deadline, but also did not say whether it was being scrapped altogether. The cargo inspection deadline has changed on several occasions. As originally mandated by Congress, the TSA was to set up a system for inspecting cargo, or require airlines to inspect cargo, by August 2010. But while the TSA met that goal for passenger flights originating within the US, the deadline has been considerably more difficult to achieve with inbound international passenger flights, which carry about 2.7 million tonnes of cargo a year. The TSA acknowledged it would likely take until 2013 to set up a system of cargo inspection for international flights, but after the Yemen-originated attempt to bomb two cargo aircraft in October last year with explosives hidden in printer tonner cartridges, the TSA moved up the deadline to the end of 2011. The TSA’s decision to postpone or possibly scrap the deadline was “no surprise,” said Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association. Fried said the TSA had told the industry that of the 197 countries with flights to the US, the TSA had signed agreements with only three, with another 20 in the pipeline. Those countries represent about 80 per cent of the air cargo to the US, Fried said. But moving forward with the December deadline “would have been a big burden” and it would have resulted in shipping delays, increased costs, and increased damage on shipments during inspections, Fried said. “We’re happy that the TSA is listening to us,” Fried said. “We’ve encouraged the TSA all along to focus their efforts on a harmonised international approach” so that shippers won’t have to adhere to dozens of different security requirements from dozens of countries. The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) also hailed the about face as “the right decision”. TIACA chairman Michael Steen said: “We wish to commend TSA on this decision. It is showing the foresight to listen to, and work with, the industry. This is the result of the TSA requesting comment from the air cargo industry on the feasibility of a 31 December deadline. “We expect to engage in further consultation with the TSA, along with other industry partners, to ensure we continue to maintain the highest possible levels of air cargo security. This has always been our priority, and we are pleased that TSA has taken into account industry’s views. “We need to maintain this truly collaborative approach to continue improving and evolving security,” Steen added. In the US, the TSA created the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP), which certifies facilities to screen cargo before it reaches the airport. The TSA sets security standards for the facilities, including physical access controls and screening of employees. And while many of the key countries exporting cargo to the US have set up similar programmes, industry representatives note it is much harder to set up a uniform international system.