Airforwarders Respond to Legislation Calling for Cargo Screening

David Wirsing, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, issued the following statement in response to legislation introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT):

"Having worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, regulatory agencies, and members of Congress, the Airforwarders Association and its members are on the front lines of helping to strengthen America's homeland security and economy. We continue to vigorously support screening 100% of elevated-risk cargo. However, the legislation introduced by Rep. Markey and Rep. Shays would have a devastating ripple effect on America's economy.

"There is simply no technology that currently exists that can screen 100% of cargo. Cargo comes in sizes that are far larger than typical passenger baggage and comes in a variety of shapes that machines cannot adapt to fit. Government authorities are already conducting research on this front but have publicly stated they are not ready to deploy any wide scale cargo screening efforts.

"Manufacturing, food and other industries depend on cargo forwarders for rapid and efficient transportation. Screening every single piece of cargo would effectively eliminate the possibility of just-in-time transportation and cargo on passenger planes. Thus, the Markey/Shays solution would bring cargo transportation to a virtual standstill, resulting in higher costs for America's companies and consumers.

"Moreover, U.S. government experts have testified it would take roughly 9,000 new federal employees at a cost of over $700 million in the first year alone to inspect every piece of cargo at the top 135 airports that handle approximately 95 % of all cargo on passenger craft.

"Last week the House Homeland Security Committee voted overwhelmingly to reject an amendment offered by Rep. Markey to require inspection of 100% of the cargo carried on commercial aircraft. We urge members of Congress to continue to reject this type of legislation and we look forward to continuing our proactive and effective working relationship Congress and the Bush Administration as we strive for ever stronger security systems."