Hong Kong pushes back roll out of new air cargo security requirements

- A Monitor Report01 Oct, 2019 | 1062 Views|-+
Hong Kong : The Hong Kong government has pushed backed the roll out of stricter cargo screening requirements in light of the current market downturn.

The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) said it would no longer require the screening of 25 per cent of all non-known consignee shipments from October 1.

Instead, the deadline has been pushed back until January 1 next year.

"The Government fully appreciates the industry's strong demand to boost the export air cargo throughput towards the end of this year, especially noting the sharp decline in air cargo throughput in the first half of 2019," CAD said in a statement.

"In the light of the latest situation of the Hong Kong economy of which the air cargo industry plays a significant role, and in view of recent feedback received from the industry, CAD adjusted the transitional arrangement."

This adjustment will allow the air cargo industry more time to cope with the enhanced security screening requirements "amidst the economic challenges the industry is facing", the department explained.

Hong Kong's screening programme is part of the International Civil Aviation Organisation's push for 100 per cent of non-known consignee cargo to be screened by June 20, 2021.

Hong Kong decided to adopt a phased approach to meeting the requirement in order to give the air cargo industry plenty of time to prepare.

From May, 40 per cent of cargo non-known consignee cargo will need to be screened, in September (2020) this will increase to 70 per cent and then in March (2020) it will be pushed to 100 per cent.

The transitional programme is not the only measure Hong Kong has put in place to help the industry meet the requirement.

In October 2018, it introduced the Regulated Air Cargo Screening Facilities Scheme (RACSF) to allow cargo to be screened at off-airport locations.

Earlier this month, U-Freight became one of the first freight forwarders to offer off-airport screening by becoming an authorised RACSF.

Off-airport screening

Hong Kong-based U-Freight has become one of the first freight forwarders to have one of its logistics hubs certified by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD) as a Regulated Air Cargo Screening Facility (RACSF).

The CAD launched its RACSF scheme in October 2018 to facilitate screening at off-airport sites, in line with ICAO policy of imposing security checks on all airfreight shipments by June 2021. The off-airport locations will also ease pressure on airport cargo terminals.

Two years ago, U-Freight installed an X-ray machine at its Golden Bear Industrial Centre in Hong Kong, giving staff experience in the scanning process, as well as helping to identify prohibited/suspect products inside e-commerce parcels.

A second, enhanced X-ray machine was installed in July 2019, which can scan consignments up to pallet size.

UFL's chief executive officer, Simon Wong, said off-airport screening would allow cargo to be screened at warehouses or similar premises before transport to the airport and loading onto aircraft.

He added, "We were very keen to capitalise on this opportunity, so it is great news that we have become one of the first freight forwarders and logistics companies to have been accredited by CAD."

The RACSF programme, which was developed after trade consultation, covers equipment, training and supervision of screening personnel and site security, post-screening handling and transportation of shipments.

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