MMD

Air Canada lifts embargo for cargo shipments to US [Updated March 11]

US Transport Security Administration security amendment forces embargo


Global air cargo transit times have not improved since the 1960s.

Global air cargo transit times have not improved since the 1960s.

Last updated Friday March 11 at 1:06 p.m.

TORONTO, ON: Air Canada Cargo has lifted its embargo for all shipments flown to the U.S.

The airline had informed customers on March 9th that an emergency change to U.S. security measures meant they would not be able to ship any air cargo to the U.S. until they could ensure compliance.

The text of Air Canada’s bulletin follows:

“The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) has issued an emergency amendment to security measures which will take effect March 10, 2011.

Given the short notice, it will not be possible for us to implement the necessary measures to ensure compliance and as a result, we are required to embargo all cargo flown to the US effective March 10, 2011 until further notice. Shipments already accepted prior to this date will be carried to destination.

Discussions continue with TSA as well as other country security agencies to find ways to mitigate this situation as quickly as possible.

Additional updates will be provided as they become available. In the meantime, should you have any questions, your local Sales team will be glad to assist you.

We are doing our best to minimize disruptions to our operations and thank you for your understanding during this time.”

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick would not clarify the issue, however the company since removed the bulletin from its website.

On March 11, Air Canada sent another bulletin informing customers it had lifted the embargo.

“We [Air Canada] have been in contact with the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] and are pleased to advise you that we fully resume our cargo operations while maintaining a heightened level of security as required by these new measures…We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers and are very pleased to have arrived at a rapid resolution.” the bulletin said.

The TSA’s new security directives apply to U.S. aircraft operators, U.S. all-cargo aircraft operators, foreign air carriers, and foreign all-cargo air carriers.

“Freight forwarders with air cargo operations at NON U.S. LOCATIONS should expect to see revised requirements for all shipments inbound to the U.S.,” the TSA said in a bulletin issued on March 10th.

It continues:

“U.S. aircraft operators, U.S. all-cargo aircraft operators, foreign air carriers, and foreign all-cargo air carriers will be requesting information for all shipments on each master airwaybill (MAWB) that they accept for transportation from a NON U.S. LOCATION to the U.S.

“This information will include a specific statement (that the aircraft operator will provide to forwarders) regarding each shipper.

This information will include shipper account history, and is necessary for an aircraft operator to determine what security measures they must apply in accordance with their Security Directive or Emergency Amendment.

By providing this statement, the forwarder is attesting to the accuracy of the information for the shipper. Providing this accurate information to

Air Carriers will expedite the screening proces.

As always, TSA reminds all IACs (Indirect Air Carriers) to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.”

The TSA has refused to comment on the new security directives, which some say have come with little warning for industry.

“Unexpected actions by governments, such as this recent directive by the TSA contribute to uncertainty in the marketplace. Where there is uncertainty, there are increased costs and decreased trade” said Maureen Jobin, communications officer with the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.

Jobin said the emboargo could’ve caused confusion and loss of small cargo.

She added that other foreign airlines would’ve been faced with the same situation and they may not have had a trucking option to the USA.

“Even one or two flights without cargo will affect a carrier’s bottom line, which will affect the cost of trade in the long run.”