January 22nd, New York
Citing the increased threat of a bomb being smuggled on board an aircraft bound for the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued an emergency order requiring stricter scrutiny of air cargo, effective Monday morning. Until further notice, all cargo being loaded onto flights at last point of departure airports in five countries — Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — will be required to comply with air cargo advance screening (ACAS) protocols.
The increased security protocols will primarily affect six carriers that depart with U.S.-bound air cargo: EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Qatar, Saudi, Emirates and Etihad. The TSA’s directive affects seven airports across the five named countries.
“In close coordination with Customs and Border Protection [CBP], I directed specific carriers to implement strict security requirements based upon recent information that established a need to implement additional security measures for air cargo bound to the United States, on both passenger and cargo aircraft,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said in a statement to CBS News.
“The continued threat to commercial aviation calls for enhanced screening and security to protect international air travel direct to the United States,” Pekoske said in the emergency order.
The countries were chosen because of a, “demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them,” according to the TSA agent familiar with the developments.
Under ACAS, carriers are required to screen and provide the TSA and CBP with advanced information about all cargo that carriers plan to bring to the U.S. ACAS forces carriers to provide “total asset visibility,” on par with the level of detail that UPS and FedEx exercise over their operation. Required details for ACAS include where a parcel was sent from, detailed information about the sender, details about the parcels handling in transit, how it was sent, the packages destination and its contents.