Canada plans to allow shippers screen air cargo to avoid terror risks

Transport Canada has recommended a system where the shippers will be allowed to screen cargo before it reaches the airport.


The agency expects the move to help airports deal with security gaps that could render airlines vulnerable to a terrorist attack.


Transport Canada has said this initiative would bring up the standard of air cargo screening and also lead to a net benefit of $202m in the next ten years for Canadian citizens, reported The Canadian Press.


The news agency quoted the report as saying: "Civil aviation remains a favoured target of terrorist attacks.


"Airports, aircraft and passengers offer the kind of high-profile targets that terrorists seek, and damage to a nation's civil aviation sector can cripple a nation's economy and sense of security."


The new system will also shift the responsibility of screening cargo from air carriers to shippers.


Canada carries more than half of all its cargo through air.


The agency has made the recommendation in a recently released regulatory plan. It observed that dependence on carriers for screening all cargo for explosive devices was slow and impractical and could lead to bottlenecks, delays and additional costs.


"Shippers need to be given the authority to screen their own goods," the proposal says.


"In order to do so, there must be a regulatory framework and program in place for the maintenance and enforcement of air cargo security that international partners will recognise."


Shippers, cargo companies, warehouse operators and trucking firms would be given a voluntary option to take part in the programme.


The participants need to invest in secure facilities, do personnel background checks, ensure a secure chain of custody for goods, and implement training, screening and record-keeping. However, the report said that the companies can benefit by avoiding screening fees and delays.