ICAO rules change has major implications for all-cargo air exports - Sobel Network Shipping Co., Inc.

ICAO rules change has major implications for all-cargo air exports

Sobel Network Shipping and our newest acquisition Sunshine Services International are both TSA-certified Indirect Air Carriers. For shippers, this means that we have a mandatory security program in place which we must follow when receiving, handling and transferring freight to airlines for international and domestic air transportation.

The details of these programs cannot be shared due to operational security, but shippers know that we handle air exports differently than ocean exports because of the rules put in place after September 11th. 

Cargo traveling on passenger aircraft requires screening through one of a number of different ways, whether by hand, with technology or with canines. Cargo which could not travel on a passenger aircraft because of size or hazard class would travel by all-cargo carrier and was not subject to screening requirements.

The air cargo industry has been working very hard to prepare for a major shift in policy that is required by the International Civil Aviation Organization of which the US and virtually every other country is a member. Beginning July 1st, the requirements to screen 100% of cargo on international air cargo flights at the same threshold as passenger flights comes into effect.

This change has been in the works for a number of years now. From a Request for Information published last year in the Federal Register:

“In March 2013, ICAO revised the air cargo security standard in ICAO 4.6 to remove the distinction between cargo transported on passenger aircraft and cargo transported on all-cargo aircraft, i.e., the same security controls must be applied regardless of the commercial aircraft used for international transport of cargo.[2] On September 1, 2016, the ICAO Secretariat notified ICAO member states that they should phase out elements of their air cargo security frameworks that are inconsistent with the ICAO framework in the revised ICAO 4.6 [3] no later than June 30, 2021.”

Air freight forwarders have been working with the TSA and with air cargo shippers to meet this deadline. The agency is rewriting the language in our compliance programs to comply with the new ICAO policy. The challenge that the industry will face is that at a time when much of the world’s air cargo has been shunted to all-cargo aircraft with the grounding of passenger flights, a significant portion of the cargo that has been shipped by air has not – to this point – required screening.

We are working closely with our airline partners and their ground handling representatives to ensure continuity of exports in an extremely volatile air cargo market.

For more information about Sobel’s plans to comply with ICAO’s new screening mandate, please contact your air export representative today.