Sudden TSA security updates surprise industry

The news measures for both US and non-US based carriers must be implemented by 16 February.

Air & Cargo Services air cargo Air Cargo Asia air cargo freight Air Forwarding air freight Air Freight Asia Air Freight Logistics air freighter air freighting Air Logistics Asia Air Shipping Asia airlines cargo airways cargo asia cargo news cargo aviation Doug Brittin GACAG TIACA transport security administration TSA

Sudden TSA security updates surprise industry

The air cargo sector has been caught off-guard by a sudden announcement by the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA), who on 29 December issued a notice that updates to Security Programs for all US and non US-based freighters flying within, into and out of the US, must be implemented by 16 February. 

“The timing of the announcement over the holiday season, and the short implementation period are not ideal,” said a diplomatic TIACA secretary general, Doug Brittin. “While the updates incorporate some ideas which the industry has worked on with the TSA, they do not address the risk-based approach, which we have discussed and fully supported.” The apparent rapid implementation with lack of consultation throws into question the much-touted close cooperation between the TSA and both TIACA and the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG). 

The programmes are said to incorporate structural changes and previous Emergency Amendments and Security Directives, but also require some changes in compliance procedures, according to TIACA. Brittin also noted the 32-day time-frame surprised the industry, as normal implementation is usually 60 days. Security experts Payload Asia spoke to said the new measures likely reflect intelligence indicating a rise in security threat, potentially relating to ISIS activity and also a more general threat as witnessed by the recent terror attacks in France. 

The specifics of the updates are not made publicly known and affected parties are expected to ascertain the exact details via the TSA’s secure website. TIACA also warned that forwarders, regulated agents and passenger carriers who tender cargo to freighter operators may also see an impact and should be notified by the operator where necessary, according to TIACA.

In accordance with the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), all-cargo/ freighter operators may notify their appropriate TSA Representatives regarding any elements of the programme changes, which they cannot implement by the effective, date and seek amendments. However, given the short implementation timeline, this also poses a challenge for industry. TIACA is recommending that members initiate this where necessary, as soon as possible, to avoid any compliance issues.

“TIACA will continue to work closely with the TSA on these and other security issues, with the goal of building a risk-based rather than ‘one size fits all’ approach to global air cargo security measures which impact all segments of our industry,” added Brittin. “We would also urge the TSA to consider reinstating an air cargo division to facilitate an even closer working relationship with industry,” he added in reference to the disbanding of the body nearly 18 months ago due to budget constraints. 

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