Friday, July 9, 2010

Failure to Prescreen Air Freight Could Mean Added Costs, Delays

(DC Velocity – Mark B. Solomon)

An August 1 deadline looms for screening all U.S. cargo carried in passenger aircraft. If more shippers don't sign on to the government's prescreening program, chaos could ensue.

It is the supply chain equivalent of putting a square peg in a round hole: An industry built on speed of delivery is being forced to stop in mid-process and examine every piece of cargo before it is loaded into the bellies of passenger planes.

Starting August 1, all shipments to be carried on passenger aircraft – 3 billion pounds each year moving in U.S. domestic or export commerce – must be screened or physically inspected prior to loading. Compliance with that mandate may prove to be the air-cargo industry's biggest challenge of the post-9/11 era.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which oversees the program, said it is prepped for show time. "Both we and the industry are ready" for the August 1 deadline, John Sammon, the Department of Homeland Security's assistant administrator, transportation-sector network management, said at a June 30 congressional hearing. "All segments of the cargo community are prepared, and we expect that [the August 1 transition] will happen with little disruption." But the industry has yet to walk the walk, and the path is littered with mines… Read more here.