There are two dates circled on the calendar in red. Dec. 3, 2012. Jan. 1, 2013. Those two deadlines are of paramount importance to those in the worldwide air cargo industry for two very different reasons.
The first, which is coming up very, very soon, is the Transportation Security Administration’s deadline for 100-percent air cargo screening. As of that day in early December, officials must screen all cargo held in the bellies of international passenger flights inbound to the U.S. TSA imposed the deadline in May after previously pushing back the date from Dec. 31, 2011, a decision which was made last fall. The original date was to happen in 2010. It turned out that there wasn’t enough time to implement such a huge undertaking.
By all reports, the screening demands will be achieved. The TSA’s John P. Sammon said as much during last month’s Air Cargo Forum in Atlanta. There are still some in the industry, though, that had forseen yet another date change at the eleventh hour. This turn of events seems highly unlikely — a huge amount of progress has been made toward the final goal — but in air cargo, as in life, anything is possible.
The other date — January 1 — marks the start of year two of the EU’s emissions trading scheme as applied to airplanes flying into and out of Europe. When the scheme was imposed last January, and even before it was implemented, there was much discussion about the plan being a tax grab, a breach of sovereignty and an act that steps on the toes of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the only body that can impose such sweeping climate rules. The din of dissent has only grown louder over the past year, as the U.S. Congress and governments around the world have expressed their outrage at the EU’s emissions platform.
Things have been operating smoothly for the past year. Planes fly in and out of Europe with little hassle, but only because the EU has given these carriers a free pass, of sorts. The free ride will supposedly end in January or soon thereafter. The voices of opposition from around the world have gotten louder because they’ve been faced with this reality and the truth that the EU doesn’t really want to back down. If ICAO can come up with a solution before next year, all could end up fine.
This month, we’ve covered the escalating fight on p. 29. If you have any thoughts about the two pressing deadlines, please drop me a line at email@example.com. We’re also always available on Twitter (@acwmagazine), on Facebook and on LinkedIn.