A new world of opportunity is opening up to freight forwarders in the area of air freight security, but forwarders must be aware of the risks as well as the profit potential in screening of outbound shipments on behalf of the federal government.
Regulations for the screening of air freight cargo specified that as of February 2009 half of the outbound air cargo shipments from the U.S. must be screened before departure.
With the unexpected steep decline in U.S. exports, that milestone was achieved without a great deal of difficulty. However, the regulations also stipulate that 100 percent of air cargo shipments must be screened beginning in August 2010.
"Just because reaching 50 percent was easy doesn't mean that 100 percent screening will be easy," said Scott Case, a member of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America air freight subcommittee.
Although the responsibility for screening air freight shipments to prevent the export of weapons of mass destruction and other prohibited cargoes rests with the Transportation Security Administration, TSA has limited resources.
TSA at present screens about 4 percent of shipments and expects to screen 6 percent by the August 2010 deadline. "This government expects the private sector to screen most of the cargo," said Greg Kritz, vice president of Roanoke Trade Services.
TSA encourages air freight forwarders and other vendors to handle most of the screening duties. The federal agency will certify private sector companies as being capable of screening air freight shipments. Companies certified by TSA will be "trusted, vetted and audited," said Juan Siro, TSA cargo security representative in Portland, Ore.
Companies that establish Certified Cargo Screening facilities will invest in the equipment and training of employees needed to secure TSA certification. Screening services run the gamut from high-tech X-ray machines to manual inspection of the cargo, he said. TSA to date has certified 308 screening facilities.
While forwarders will profit from the value-added services they offer at CCS facilities, they also assume liabilities such as exposure of employees to radiation and the potential of damage to cargo, Kritz noted.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com .