US forwarders vigilant to terrorist attack

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AfA executive director, Brandon Fried

Freight forwarders in the US are remaining vigilant to the threat of a terrorist attack, according to Airforwarders Association (AfA) executive director, Brandon Fried.

Speaking to delegates on the second day today of the Air Cargo Americas conference and exhibition in Miami (US), he tells delegates in the first session today Reducing Supply Chain Risk, in which he was on a panel of five: “Freight forwarders are the front line protectors for air cargo security against terrorism and we are the last guardians of the gate.

“From a freight forwarders perspective security has been extremely costly for us, it is a very expensive undertaking,” Fried explains. He adds: “We (freight forwarders) are in a constant state of vigilance (to the risk of terrorism).”

Fried says freight forwarders are especially concerned about the regulations that are set to come into the air cargo industry and the need for standardisation.

In the US, the ongoing Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) programme, is focusing on pre-loading advanced data targeting before departure for shipments coming to the US, while other countries are looking at different models.

There is also an export pilot programme taking place in the US that may result in forwarders having to take an active part in submitting house airway bill data to the government before flight departure.

“We want to have consistency in these regulations. It is very dangerous to have different regulations as is where the bad guys exploit the loop holes,” Fried explains.

He tells delegates incidents like the crash of the Metrojet Airbus A321 on Saturday in Sinai, Egypt “keeps him up at night”: “It might have been a bomb, that is the thing that keeps me up at night.”

“Airlines are adding more caution and preventing cargo being flown on aircraft and that is scary,” Fried adds.

Fried says that the AfA always says 100 per cent screening does not guarantee 100 per cent safety while the industry has to have ACAS. “We believe in the multi-risk layered approach. Knowing who sent the box as well what is in the box.”

The panel all discussed how the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York in 2001, completely changed the game on aircraft security and specifically for cargo carriers, the game changed with the Yemen bomb plot on 29 October 2010, when two packages destined for the US containing a bomb were found on separate cargo aircraft.

The International Air Transport Association’s head of airport, passenger, cargo and security in the Americas, Filipe Pereira dos Reis, who was also a panellist, says the most important factors to the reduce risk of terrorist attacks and to be secure are the standardisation of regulations and processes and information sharing within across the entire supply chain.