United Airlines Cargo

United Airlines Cargo

For airlines looking ahead to 2011, one is reminded of Yogi Berra’s notable quote, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

We tiptoed into 2010, and beyond the understandable concerns about the economy, the industry’s biggest worry was security — planning for the Aug. 1, U.S. mandate requiring that 100 percent of the cargo on passenger aircraft be subjected to screening under rules set out by the Transportation Security Administration.

And now we prepare for 2011 with security again our predominant issue. The major issue facing airlines in the coming year will be how to effectively handle the increased security demands for inbound international mail and cargo resulting from the Yemen package threats.

Dealing with security is always a “glass half full or half empty” proposition for the industry. New mandates pop up overnight, testing your ability to be nimble and flexible.

For airlines, those mandates can also represent an opportunity. Beyond meeting the domestic screening requirements, for instance, many of us have launched screening for a very high percentage of inbound international cargo and a significant amount of inbound mail.

Those are the areas that will be under pressure and will face increased regulatory scrutiny in 2011. The air cargo industry’s mettle will be tested.

Can we once again make sudden changes in policies and investments to ensure the strong value proposition of shipments by air? We were successful in handling the Aug. 1 milestone. As we look ahead to 2011 security challenges, we’ll draw from that experience and boldly toast the New Year with our half-full beverages of choice.