BIFA warns against knee-jerk reaction on air cargo security

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The British International Freight Association has warned against a knee-jerk reaction to the news that a bomb was found on a freighter at East Midlands Airport last Friday.

Director general Peter Quantrill Said: “The issue requires attention to look at systems and procedures – though it must be stressed that there are already well established, in depth and organised processes in place. It was a very serious issue but it would be wrong to suggest that airfreight is not treated in the same way as passengers when it comes to security.

“The fact that the explosives were discovered after an intelligence tip off, shows that the use of intelligence and good policing experience is one of the most important aspects of this.”

Quantrill pointed out that post 9/11 “industry and government has implemented robust legislation for securing the supply chain from an act of terrorism, and the freight forwarding industry has made heavy investments in screening equipment and procedures”.

“Success in securing the supply chain relies less on new methods and technology than it does on greater co-operation and information sharing among supply chain parties and between the public and private sectors,” he said.

“Clear, uniformly enforced strategies that build on existing commercial and government data at minimal cost and with minimal disruption to the flow of trade are essential to success. It’s a tall order. And it brings costs with it. But success depends on it.

The Freight Transport Association’s head of global supply chain policy, Christopher Snelling, said:  “Logistics companies operate complex and stringent security measures for all air cargo. These measures have been developed in close partnership with security authorities in all countries. These are intelligent measures which constantly evolve to meet threats as they emerge and are anticipated.”

“As the full details become known the industry will, as always, work with UK and other authorities to determine what lessons can be learned for the future of aviation security.”

However, Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said: “It is good news that the combined intelligence services have worked together effectively to foil the plot. But, as the eyes and ears on the front line, pilots’ warnings about the whole security regime now need to be listened to.”

BALPA warned that with almost all costs of UK airport security checks being borne by the industry there is a very real risk that commercial pressures will lead to our guard being dropped.

“The news of a foiled attack should not mean that government can or should ignore the complaints earlier this week of redundant security measures. If anything those complaints and this latest uncovered plot should be seen as making the case for better targeting of resource at identified risks.”


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