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New security rules issued by the TSA are likely to cause confusion for forwarders tendering cargo for freighter flights.

TIACA said it was “disappointed” with the timing of the new “interim” security measure, but has denied it has insufficient influence at the Administration.

Last week TIACA warned the market that the TSA had updated its Security Program for all-cargo aircraft travelling from, to or within the US. The update was posted on 29 December, during the holiday period, and gave freighter operators and forwarders just 32 working days to make the change.

While the exact rule changes cannot be publicised, they relate to procedures for tendering cargo for freighter flights, and the onus is on carriers to inform relevant parties.

Affected companies may notify the TSA if they are unable to implement the updates in time, but this could lead to further confusion in the industry, said one source in the US.

“One carrier may apply for a delay to implementation, but another may not. This will make life more difficult for forwarders who will have to tender cargo under different rules for different carriers.”

While TIACA members had received the news, the source said that the TSA does not publicise updates, but expects relevant companies to check the secure website where changes are announced.

It is not the first time the TSA has introduced rule changes with very little time for industry to implement them. However, TIACA’s closer association with the TSA was intended to give the air cargo industry a stronger voice at the table, and both the timing of the notice and the fact that the security rules themselves “do not address the risk-based approach” that TIACA had called for, has cast some doubt over how strong the relationship is.

But Doug Brittin, secretary general of TIACA, argued: “We are in a good position with the TSA. We are co-chair of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee. But despite all our combined efforts, if the TSA wants to implement something, that is its prerogative.

“We believe we are making progress.”

Mr Brittin noted that the new rules are likely to be interim measures. “The last full programme for the industry was issued in 2008. A new programme went out for comment in the third quarter of 2013, and the industry has suggested changes. In the meantime, the TSA felt interim measures were needed.

“Everybody was a bit surprised by the timing – 60 days is more typical for implementation.”

He said the industry was trying to help the TSA standardise the new full programme, which could be completed in a year or so.

TIACA has been calling for the reinstatement of an air cargo division at the TSA, which disbanded the previous one some 18 months ago to focus on different activities, and due to funding requirements.

While Mr Brittin said it thought it was unlikely the TSA would set up a division that was “as large and robust” as previously, it was “not unlikely” it may reinstate some form of air freight arm.

And in a statement he reiterated his call for a “risk-based approach” to security.

“TIACA will continue to work closely with the TSA on these and other security issues, with the goal of building a risk-based, rather than ‘one size fits all’, approach to global air cargo security measures which impact all segments of our industry,” he added.

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