Updating the guidance to help mitigate air cargo security threats

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To further assist air transport regulators and operators in their mitigation of security threats associated with air cargo activities, ICAO and the World Customs Organization (WCO) have released a revised supply chain and secure mail publication today.

The highly complex nature of the air cargo and mail operating environment, involving a multiplicity of entities, might add to the day-to-day operational difficulties of implementing security measures and countering threats. The advice, which has been published in the third edition of “Moving Air Cargo Globally”, describes the roles and responsibilities of these various entities, and highlights how they can work together effectively to secure air cargo and mail within the regulatory framework.

“Maintaining operational efficiency and commercial viability has always been at the cornerstone of ICAO’s efforts towards improving aviation security, as demonstrated by the tremendous adaptability and resilience the air cargo sector showed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” remarked ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar, noting that the understanding of the nature and level of related security threats – and how to combat them – has also significantly improved in recent years. “Moving Air Cargo Globally” will help to support the implementation of robust and harmonized standards worldwide, while fostering the improved air transport connectivity which is so critical to the future sustainability of societies and economies everywhere.”

Previous attacks on civil aviation committed or attempted by concealing improvised explosive or incendiary devices in consignments demonstrate that it is essential to remain vigilant and apply measures that secure air cargo and mail, with vulnerabilities potentially providing terrorists and criminals with a route of attack. These threats remain credible today and measures still need to be sustainably implemented by all stakeholders.

The guidance issued today also highlights the increasing importance of the digitalization of cargo processes, in order to make them better fit for purpose in modern multimodal supply chains, and more agile, responsive, and secure in the face of new opportunities and threats. It focuses on measures around high-risk cargo and screening, including preventive security measures directed at staff members to mitigate the threats posed by insiders.

Drawing on inputs from wide ranging stakeholders, including both regulators and industry, the publication notably recognizes the critical role international supply chains play as catalysts for sustainable development at the national, regional, and global levels, underscoring the broader need to avoid security-related disruptions to these activities.