New air freight security rules begin tomorrow

06.30.2021

Stakeholders bracing for possible disruptions as ICAO rules kick in requiring all international air cargo transported on freighter aircraft to be treated and screened to the same security standards as those required for cargo carried on passenger aircraft

Air freight stakeholders are bracing for possible disruptions as new global air freight security rules come into force tomorrow requiring that 100% of international air cargo transported on freighter aircraft is treated and screened to the same security standards as those required for cargo carried on passenger aircraft.

Air freight representatives have some concern that the new rules have not been communicated effectively throughout the supply chain, with considerable uncertainty even among organisations that have been actively involved in the process.

Earlier this month, the US Airforwarders Association (AfA) reminded its members that by 30 June, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires all member countries, including the United States, to ensure that 100% of international air cargo transported on commercial aircraft is either screened to a level intended to identify and/or detect the presence of concealed explosive devices or under appropriate security controls throughout the cargo supply chain to prevent the introduction of concealed explosive devices.

It advised its members that «there are two paths to US compliance with this mandate: screen 100% of cargo before it is loaded onto a commercial aircraft, or establish a TSA-regulated programme or framework that screens cargo and/or applies security controls throughout the supply chain.»

The AfA said that the association, and related stakeholder groups, «continue to work with the Transportation Security Administration in meeting this deadline», although some of the details remained unclear. And despite past stakeholder efforts to extend the 30 June deadline, «TSA will not grant an extension», AfA said.

It noted that the TSA «will soon furnish this Federal Register Notice about its Secure Packing Facility Program (SPF), which will provide a TSA-regulated framework that applies security controls as mandated by ICAO». AfA noted that «since the SPF will not likely be implemented by the deadline», its expectation was that «100% of all export cargo must be screened before loading on commercial freighters».

It encouraged AfA members «to consult with their commercial freighter operators about each carrier’s plan to meet the requirement».

In a note to members this week, the AfA said: "We continue to monitor the upcoming ICAO Account Consignor deadline. While TSA guidance varies, we believe that the new security requirements take effect on Thursday.

«The TSA has hosted several stakeholder association briefing calls and plans another at 10:00 EDT on Thursday, in which the Airforwarders Association will be in attendance. While the AfA provided comments and suggestions to the TSA concerning the ICAO Account Consignor implementation, we realise that the agency’s guidance to Indirect Air Carriers remains vague and that several compliance-related questions remain.

«Our ongoing engagement with TSA will undoubtedly continue, as will our communication with our regulated screener members.»

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