Stricter Cargo Security after Terror Alert could cost Airlines Millions

Mike O'Brien

Freight carriers fear rising costs following the recent terror threats that forced the closure of U.S. embassies in scores of countries across the globe.

All in-bound cargo on flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa is now being screened twice as a result of the al Qaeda threats.

The Department of Homeland Security earlier this month ordered airlines to beef up the inspection of cargo at the last point of departure for the U.S.

The airlines affected include El Al Israel Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and U.S. Airways.

Related: Cargo Security Infographic

They fear the new measures might usher in an increase in the prices for flying shipments or the introduction of a security fee on exporters. Some analysts believe heightened security could cost airlines up to nearly $3 million more a year.

Brandon Fried, the executive director of the trade group Airforwarders Association, expressed his concerns about the new DHS directive.

He told CNN: "They said, 'until further notice, this is what you're going to do.’

"Nothing unscreened gets on the plane. Basically they said, 'If you used one method, or several methods (of inspecting cargo), you need to do it again.'

"It's redundant, dual screening. So now the freight is doubly secure."

The DHS decided on the new measures because al Qaeda was at the heart of the latest scare.

In October 2010 extra screening was ordered after two toner cartridges packed with plastic explosives was discovered on board two aircraft bound for the U.S. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took responsibility for that plot.

In a statement released to the media, a DHS official said: "As always, our security posture, which at all times includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an ever evolving threat picture."

Container detection systems and advanced screening methods are among the topics that will be discussed at IDGA’s 2nd Annual Cargo Security event in November. For full details, go