On Dec. 3, a new U.S. Transportation Security Administration rule requiring 100-percent screening of cargo on passenger aircraft bound for the United States went into effect.
Despite reports that screening all that additional cargo has caused delays at Hong Kong International Airport, Mark Whitehead, head of the airport's handling group Hactl, said the agency is handling the extra duties well.
The company routes around 1,100 cargo tons per day to the United States, and 10 to 13 percent of that total flies on passenger planes. The screening demands on these passenger flights account for 25 percent on the company's daily screening capacity. Whitehead pointed out that the company had been screening all the cargo it sends on passenger planes to the United States before the December deadline just to make sure there were no kinks in the system.
“Compliance with the new regulations has gone smoothly, and the situation is fully under control," he added in a statement. “Should the TSA requirement eventually be expanded to include cargo carried on freighters, that would certainly involve greater volumes and place more pressure on the airport’s air cargo industry, but Hactl is already attuned to this possibility and will be expanding its screening capability in anticipation."
The TSA set the Dec. 3 deadline for 100-percent screening of passenger cargo routed to the United States in May after pushing back the original deadline of Dec. 31, 2011. This extra time arose, those in the industry said, because the TSA ran into difficulty in getting foreign governments to cooperate with the new security regime.
"Harmonizing security efforts with our international and industry
partners is a vital step in securing the global supply chain," the TSA's John S. Pistole said on announcing the Dec. 3 date. "By making greater use of intelligence,
TSA can strengthen screening processes and ensure the screening of all
cargo shipments without impeding the flow of commerce." - Jon Ross