AIR CARGO QUARTERLY - Lufthansa speaks up on thwarting air cargo terrorism, crime

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Air Cargo News  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTNow that officials have foiled another terrorist plot—this time involving liquids to make bombs, airline security is even more complicated and imperative. However, security not only means protecting aircraft against terrorist acts. Security also includes theft and pilferage. While the threat of terrorism recently hit a “red” alert, theft and pilferage is an increasingly serious issue.
For two years, theft has been so rife at London’s Heathrow that it is now commonly called “Thief-row.” Amsterdam’s Schiphol was the scene of a dramatic diamond heist last year where thieves hijacked a security truck carrying jewels worth around $99.10 million. Elsewhere it is worse. In most of Africa, there is no security at all.
“I know of five recent armed hold ups at Johannesburg International Airport, comments Harald Zielinski, head of security and risk prevention, Lufthansa Cargo AG. “Security is so bad, we don’t fly there any more.”
Security measures in Europe have improved. Yet executives at Lufthansa Cargo do not mince words, “Cooperation between all and sundry in the air cargo business must be intensified and further improved,” said Heinz-Ludger Heuberg, Lufthansa Cargo Board Member Human Resources and Finance at the 13th International Airfreight Days in Frankfurt recently. “Anyone slacking in that area will lose out.”
For many it is also an issue of retaining customers. Lufthansa Cargo has become so serious about security that measures undertaken at its cargo facility at Frankfurt International Airport have earned it the reputation, “Fortress Frankfurt.”
Tight fortDuring a rare opportunity, Lufthansa recently invited the media to tour its Frankfurt operation. Included in the tour was a look at fencing, the use of identification cards, and security surveillance cameras, in addition to a demonstration of various bomb detection x-ray machines utilized in its Export Warehouse and the doubled-wall vaults of its High Valuables Center.
Lufthansa Cargo representatives were reluctant to reveal the exact amount the carrier is spending on security systems, but its investment hovers upwards of two digit numbers in the millions.
“We are not only investing in experts. We are investing in hardware, software, training and people,” states Karl-Heinz Kopfle, executive board member operations, Lufthansa Cargo AG. “The aviation industry is very much burdened with all of these costs, which authorities think are necessary to cover their ideas and reach a security standard. This is an issue that is important to us because sometimes the ideas civil servants have do not come from understanding the issues in our business.”
Securing the chainLufthansa cargo executives are confident they are making every effort to put in place the most secure platform possible. Yet they have issues with cargo security regulations and feel strongly that air cargo security must include securing the entire supply chain.
“Clearly enough, cargo is cargo and we do not only secure the cargo of our customers, but also our employees and customers,” says Kopfle. “Finally, we make every effort to also secure the public.”
The issue is divided into two camps: passenger versus cargo, with some government officials lumping policies regarding the two together, and some lobbying to take cargo off of passenger flights.
Kopfle is quick to point out that without the ability to fly cargo in the belly hold of passenger planes, the economics of passenger flights on most routes will diminish.
“It would place incredible pressure on the passenger side regarding rates, with yields being very much affected,” he says. “I see no argument to ban cargo from passenger aircraft if airlines handle security as we do.”
Foreign flag carriers, in particular, take issue with the way the US government dictates its policies worldwide and works very little with other countries to promote an international standard. To them it seems that US government agencies, especially US Customs and Border Pro

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American Journal of Transportation