UK says cargo security rules under review

Home Secretary Theresa May said on Sunday security around all international air cargo arriving in Britain was being reviewed after a bomb sent from Yemen was found aboard an aircraft at a regional airport.

But, acknowledging the massive economic and financial implications of much tighter international air cargo security rules, May stopped short of saying a much more rigorous system of checks was being planned either unilaterally or globally.

“We are looking at the screening of freight. We will be looking at the processes we use. We’ll be talking with the (aviation) industry about these issues,” she told BBC television.

“I think crucially … we did yesterday act, we did direct the industry that they should not be accepting freight originating from the Yemen, bringing it into the UK, or, crucially, transiting through the UK.”

Asked if much tighter laws governing air freight security are being considered at airports around the world she said she could not talk about specific action.

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday the bomb sent from Yemen and found on a U.S.-bound flight at East Midlands Airport was designed to blow an aircraft out of the sky — possibly over Britain.

United Parcel Service, whose cargo plane was found to have carried the device, could not immediately be reached for comment on implications for its global business.

The British pilots’ union BALPA said the focus on passenger security had left the “door open” for attacks on cargo flights. It said pilots had warned of the industry’s vulnerability for years.

Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, told Reuters cargo security was the “Achilles’ heel” of air transport.

Private airport operator BAA, which runs the country’s biggest airport Heathrow amongst others, said it was awaiting formal instructions from the Department for Transport.

“Any increase in security (cargo and passenger) would come from the government, but to date there have been no changes made to our requirements,” a spokeswoman said.

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), which represents all cargo interests, said there should be a review of all aspects of air cargo, but warned against a knee-jerk reaction.

Speaking to the BBC, the director general of BIFA, Peter Quantrill, said: “It would be wrong to suggest that air freight security is not treated in the same way as passengers when it comes to security.”
Source: Reuters

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