AIR CARGO QUARTERLY - Participants voice concern at Lufthansa Cargo security conference in New York

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

By Manik Mehta, New York, AJOTLufthansa Cargo’s security conference on September 30 in New York, which attracted a large turnout of shippers, forwarders and others involved in cargo transportation, provided a platform for the participants to voice their concerns at the projected enforcement of full-screening of inbound cargo into the United States.
Lufthansa Cargo took the leadership in hosting this conference on a matter that is of great concern to the logistics operators who do not know what “semi and full screening” of cargo would look like in practice and how these measures, which will soon become a reality for US-bound shipments, would affect them.
Harald Zielinski, Lufthansa Cargo’s Chief of Security and Risk Management Prevention, one of the lead speakers at the conference, minced no words when he said that the industry needed to act in tandem with governments and shippers and other interested parties to create a security system that could be implemented in workable procedures.
Zielinski reminded that threats to air-cargo traffic “do not just come from terrorists but also from organized crime.” He called for stricter checks at premises and thorough vetting of people working there to ensure “problem-free operation.”
Lufthansa, according to Zielinski, has spent “millions of dollars on security.” “We have installed a sophisticated screening equipment to check containers. “A single machine costs around $ 250,000, and we have spent $ 80 million on security machines,” he claimed. Lufthansa Cargo is deploying Smith Detection’s Ionoscan 500DT dual trace explosives detectors that were recently endorsed on the TSA qualified products list, at all the 18 of our US airport locations. These detectors belong to a second generation system designed to identify small amounts of explosives from a single sample in a matter of seconds,” he explained.
However, many cargo carriers face the problem of complying with different security requirements in different countries. “It is quite a challenge for carriers to meet different standards. Also, we have to think about the huge costs such exercise would entail,” Zielinski said.
Lufthansa Cargo spokesman Nils Haupt the American Journal of Transportation that the carrier has already transformed its bases in Chicago and Los Angeles into “security hubs”, deploying physical access barriers, comprehensive video surveillance, explosive detection equipment, biometric checks and security guard patrols. Lufthansa Cargo has also converted its bases in Frankfurt, Munich, New York, Johannesburg and Shanghai into security hubs.
Lufthansa Cargo representatives, who said that airlines cannot bear the costs alone, urged the government to share some of the costs because airlines, shippers and forwarders are bringing in goods and contributing to the economic development. Lufthansa Cargo maintains 22 stations in America and generates US$ 3.30 billion revenue in America.
Howard Safir, former New York City police commissioner and presently CEO of Safir Rosetti, described Lufthansa Cargo’s security measures as “gold standards.” “Lufthansa aircraft is not likely to be a target because terrorists look for soft targets with maximum devastation.” However, Safir warned that the world continued to face the threat of terrorism. “A cargo aircraft that crashes into a huge building can cause the same devastation as a passenger aircraft. An aircraft with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel is in itself a weapon of mass destruction!” he told the audience.
Safir said that cargo security is as important as passenger security. Responding to the complaint that the new security measures would be a drain on their resources, Safir said: “People complain of costs in implementing security measures, but must think of the costs of not having security.”
Nevertheless, most participants wanted the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be “practical” while implementing their next set of security measures – 50% screening by February 2009 and 100% screening of all

American Journal of Transportation