Last weekend’s bomb scares have raised serious questions over security standards for air freight transport.
Officials uncovered explosive packages at airports in Britain and Germany. They had been posted from Yemen.
The alerts sparked a transatlantic security operation.
The International Air Transport Association, the global aviation trade body, insists it will improve security procedures.
But as IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani explains government cooperation and improved technology will be essential to achieving this goal.
“Unfortunately we cannot scan volumes or packages of a certain volume. I think that this is not rocket science. We have to ask the providers of this kind of technology,” said Bisignani.
While passengers and their bags are routinely scanned and identified, there is no standard procedure for checking air freight.
Nevertheless, shipping by air is an essential way to get goods from A to B in today’s global economy.
In 2009, some 35 billion euros worth of goods were sent by air, in terms of value that was a 35 percent share of the global cargo market or 26 million tonnes.
US authorities are calling for all air freight to be scanned, but that would likely be an expensive and painstaking process as it would mean all cargo would have to be taken out of its containers and packaging.
Those delays could kill an industry favoured for its speed. Shipping companies would have to hire more people. The extra costs would eventually be borne by their customers.