US orders extra air cargo screening for Middle East flights

US orders extra air cargo screening for Middle East flights

Filed on January 23, 2018

The countries falling under this order are Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Monday it will require six Middle Eastern carriers to undergo enhanced cargo screening as part of an effort to raise global aviation security.

The emergency amendment covers carriers in five countries flying out of seven airports and focuses "on last points of departure locations where the threat is greatest," TSA said in a statement.

It comes as the Trump administration has been working to increase international airport security.

The carriers and airports are: Egypt Air operating out of Cairo International Airport, Royal Jordanian operating out of Queen Alia International Airport, Saudia operating out of King Abdul Aziz International Airport and King Khalid International Airport, Qatar Airways operating out of Doha International Airport and Emirates and Etihad operating out of Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport respectively.

All cargo originating from those airports will have to be screened and secured under Air Cargo Advance Screening protocols. The TSA said most of the requirements were already being voluntarily applied by airlines around the world.

Carriers must submit advance air cargo data to US authorities. The program uses US Department of Homeland Security "threat information and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted vetting."

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said in a statement that it was "fully compliant with all regulatory security requirements across its operations."

Abu Dhabi International Airport already has a US Customs and Border Protection facility that allows passengers to clear screening they'd otherwise have to go through when landing in America. That means passengers can walk right out of the airport on arrival.

A Royal Jordanian spokeswoman said the airline had "received this new amendment from TSA to be implemented on air cargo shipments, and we were given one month period to apply the new amendment."

In September, TSA issued a new security directive requiring enhanced screening of cargo from Turkey after an incident in Australia.

In October, new security measures including stricter passenger screening started taking effect on all US-bound flights, including some short security interviews with passengers at check-in or the boarding gate.

In July, the United States lifted restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.