Conference attacks TSA's 11th-hour amendment
The latest Emergency Amendment (EA) from the US Transportation Security Administration has caused major disquiet at the World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul, leading to calls for the International Civil Aviation Organization to coordinate a single worldwide airfreight security protocol.
A loss of “known shipper” designation for companies that change addresses and fail to ship cargo for a few days provoked anger among expert panellists and delegates at the event. Carriers serving the U.S. will have to screen more shipments accordingly.
The world’s airlines were notified of the rule change at 1 a.m. European time on a Saturday morning, with a requirement to comply within 72 hours. Those seeking clarification on this significant change to their processes were unable to reach the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) until the Monday.
Harald Zieliniski, head of security at Lufthansa Cargo, told Air Cargo World he was on the phone five minutes after learning the news, but could not make contact with the TSA.
Lufthansa and its associate airlines, including Austrian and BMI, made a partial response ahead of the deadline, but Zielinski warned there would be a delay of two or three days while the group addressed other points. He urged the German government and the European Commission to take up the matter with the U.S. authorities.
Karl Garnadt, chairman of Lufthansa Cargo, is concerned about the differing European and U.S. approaches to security. He said screening technology could never provide a total solution and must be combined more effectively with profiling and intelligence in a blending of the two rival systems.
Airlines are happy to cooperate, but must be seen as professional partners with the security authorities rather than “suspects,” Garnadt said.
Delegates heard that ICAO would issue a new aviation security manual by the end of this year after agreeing to guidelines with IATA, whose Secure Freight initiative now has its first live operating model.
Malaysia agreed in mid-2008 to pilot the scheme, and by October 2010, a draft National Freight Security Program (NFSP) was ready for testing. Trials were carried out in November on the Kuala Lumpur-Amsterdam trade lane, with a “secure freight” code incorporated into electronic documents.
Ibrahim Mohd Salleh, acting senior vice president for cargo operations at Malaysia Airlines’ MASkargo division, told the conference the NFSP had achieved certification in December and was now ready for implementation.
Salleh said Malaysia’s whole security culture had needed to go to a higher level. There had been challenges for Customs; for forwarders in maintaining the integrity of shipments and an audit trail; for handlers because of the need to differentiate between secure and non-secure freight; and for airlines, which had to ensure compliance throughout the network, including the handler at destination.
Warren Miller, who heads the international air cargo branch of the TSA, said setting a one-size-fits-all security standard was a challenge because of different government demands, legislative policies and business models. “There are people trying to do a great deal of harm. We’re never going to get it right first time — we never said we would. But we have to feasibly address the threat,” he said.
Jean-Claude Delen, chairman of FIATA, said: “Criminals will always be a step ahead of us. Six months ago, we would have said, ‘let’s self-regulate.' Now that is not appropriate, but meeting all the requirements is impossible. If you do something right, it goes wrong somewhere else. ICAO has an important role in helping us to get to an acceptable solution.”
It was not only a U.S. problem, Delen said. One unnamed country in Europe had issued new rules, but companies wishing to train people to follow these were told the information was classified. Certification programs needed to be aligned. Europe’s AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) status must be recognized under C-TPAT rules or there was no point in forwarders adopting it.
Trade was at stake. Delen urged regulators to listen before acting, but feared it was already too late.
Michael Steen, TIACA's new chairman, said the airfreight industry must help regulators and authorities make the right decisions. ICAO should be the coordination point and should set standards including the definition of high risk. The safety of a shipment must be established before its first flight. National and other regulatory authorities must adopt ICAO standards.
Finally, a major shipper added to the criticism levelled at regulators. Abel Lopez Cernadas, import/export and transport director for fashion group Inditex, said his company moved 110,000 tonnes of freight in 2010, replenishing 5,000 stores worldwide twice a week from eight bonded, AEO-accredited warehouses in Spain. The problem was not only different regulations for different countries, but variations in each airport’s or carrier’s interpretation of these, Lopez said. The TSA’s latest amendments rendered the supply chain precautions taken by Inditex “useless."
Lopez questioned why, if his supply chain was deemed secure under AEO, his company sometimes missed cut-offs and was also hit with security surcharges that last year amounted to more than €16 million euros. He accepted, however, that airlines were at risk of losing revenue, and flew emptier than they needed to, as a result of trying to meet current security demands. They risked losing their reputation for reliability, even when they were not guilty.