Airports Need To Be Included in Cargo Security Discussions

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By Debby McElroy
I just returned from attending the ACI World Governing Board meeting on Sunday, held in conjunction with the Annual General Assembly and ACI Latin America/Caribbean General Assembly in Bermuda.  Yeah, tough duty I know… If you haven’t been there- go!  It is a beautiful place with warm and charming residents who made me feel very welcome even though I was only on the island for two days.

The two bombs, concealed inside computer printers, were virtually impossible to detect by X-ray screening because they contained an odourless explosive and used timers that would have looked like part of the printers’ electronics.

The ACI World Board includes airport CEOs from large and small airports throughout the world, elected by the membership in each of the five ACI regions: North America, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Africa. Safety, security, sustainability and the economics of the worldwide airport and aviation system are their focus.  So it is no surprise that after last Friday’s attempted bombing of UPS and FedEx aircraft, Board Chair Max Moore-Wilton added cargo security to the discussion items.  There was agreement that while airlines, shippers and freight forwarders have the principal role in conducting the necessary security procedures for bulk and palletized cargo, airports must be included when intelligence information is discussed and risk-based measures are developed to meet the ever evolving threat.  Additionally, there is a critical need for governments to invest in technology that will add to the existing systems that screen air cargo shipments.

In response to recent attempts to sabotage aircraft using explosive devices concealed in consignments of air cargo, the board issued the following statement: “ACI and the world’s airports deplore the recent attempts to sabotage aircraft through explosive devices concealed in consignments of air cargo.  Airports are part of the global supply chain, working in partnership with airlines to facilitate in excess of 80 million tones of air cargo annually, much of which is time critical or perishable. Recognizing that terrorists will continue to explore and probe the current system for air cargo security, it is critical that airports be included in the discussion with governments, airlines and others to address the immediate threat and to develop strong and sustainable security regimes. We support practical measures to ensure the transport of goods to markets in a secure environment, facilitating the essential flows of air cargo to the global economy.”

Additionally, ACI-NA President Greg Principato and ACI World Director General Angela Gittens sent a letter today to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole stating that “In the wake of the attempted cargo bombings, the world’s airports reiterate our strong desire to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on coordinated measures to mitigate current and future threats.”