ICAO Deadline and Change in Screening Requirements

Jun 30, 2021Market Advisory

any changes that impact costs or transit times On July 1st, the TSA will require that air cargo on all-cargo aircraft be screened in an identical manner as cargo traveling on passenger planes. Airlines, ground handlers, and forwarders are working furiously to plan, in spite of a lack of guidance from the TSA on how it is to be executed. NOTE: This change applies only to international freighters arriving or departing the United States. 

The origin of this is the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which the United States is a member. In 2013, ICAO announced a change to the regulations covering shippers for the purposes of air cargo security. ICAO gave member nations, including the United States, until June 30, 2021, to promulgate changes to their air cargo security programs that met ICAO’s changes. 

A year ago, TSA asked for input in this Federal Register filing.

Other countries have their own security regimes and Brandon Fried, Executive Director of the Airforwarders Associationa trade association to which TOC belongs—has said that other nations around the globe have resolved the changes and are in better shape than the U.S., meaning a lower likelihood of delays for cargo moving between other countries and air imports into the United States.

We cannot share the details of these programs, because we are prohibited from releasing Sensitive Security Information or SSI. What we can say is that there have been two separate tracks for handling air cargo shipped on passenger aircraft and air cargo shipped on all-cargo aircraft, or freighters. ICAO’s change harmonizes how shippers who tender cargo for shipment by air are treated and recognized, and this means that the type of aircraft no longer matters for differentiating how cargo is screened for security purposes.

The required cargo screening can happen in one of several places—at the airline or their designated ground handler or it can be coordinated by the air freight forwarder and tendered to the airline already screened. Because so much travels by freighter, a large swath of cargo had been able to move through more swiftly under different regulations or was screened at a Certified Cargo Screening Facility or CCSF. 

This has been particularly helpful during the pandemic when so many passenger planes were taken out of service.

With this mandatory deadline, though, all parties are waiting for full details from TSA on how the mechanics of the program will need to be executed. They are also struggling to figure out how to add the necessary bandwidth to screen an entirely new class of cargo that had previously been treated differently.

We at TOC have been working closely and proactively with our airline partners to do our best to understand and clarify what these changes will represent; whether that be financially due to additional costs or for cut-offs before flight departures, because more cargo may require added time to screen and would need to be delivered earlier.

We have taken the most pragmatic steps possible to ensure our compliance with these changes. TOC shares the concerns of our air cargo customers at a time when supply chains are already facing serious challenges. We acknowledge that meeting a looming regulatory change further burdens them unnecessarily. Everyone in the air cargo supply chain is working to ensure that this happens as smoothly and with as few changes, interruptions, and delays as possible, but it will require some time for the changes to shake out.

TOC will continue to communicate any changes that impact costs or transit times to our customers when we receive more concrete and clear information. We encourage you to stay in contact with your TOC Account Manager for updates or to ask questions.


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