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Air cargo industry readies for ACC3 regulation

By Adina Solomon on March 13, 2014
tagged acc3, wcs

In a poll of the World Cargo Symposium audience, 19 percent of those affected by ACC3 said they will not be ready by the July 1 deadline.

All carriers who fly cargo and mail into the European Union from non-EU countries must have their security operations validated.

In order to comply with the EU regulation, carriers must ensure that cargo and mail destined for the EU is screened or comes from a secure supply chain. After a carrier is independently validated, it gains the required status as an “Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport” (ACC3).

Companies must be validated by July 1.

“This ACC3 regulation doesn’t just affect the carriers,” Mike Woodall, head of independent validation and regulatory engagement at IATA, told WCS. “It affects the entire supply chain.”

Chris Notter, independent, led a panel discussion on ACC3 after Woodall’s speech.

Kester Meijer, director operational integrity at KLM Cargo, said ACC3 should be global instead of regional. He also said it is a complex regulation that requires 22 pages to explain.

Martin Jones, head of aviation security for the UK Department for Transport, said the basic principles of ACC3 are straightforward.

“What seems right about it is it’s based on industry good practice,” Jones said. “It’s what the industry wants to do anyway.”

Though Meijer said he thinks the industry can achieve ACC3 by July 1, not all member countries are up to speed. In a few cases, the dialogue didn’t begin until February, “which is quite late,” Meijer said.

Jones said there are enough validators to get the job done, though Meijer cautioned that after validations take place, validators must still write a report and any flagged issues must be rectified.

“If we all wait until the last possible moment, there will be a huge pile,” he said.

Tleli Makhetha, general manager for South African Airways Cargo, said the airline is ready to have its validation take place.

“There is no debate whether we need to apply security. There is no debate about it. We all agree on it,” he said.

The question is how the industry delivers on that, Makhetha said.

A ground handler in the audience talked about how he got validated as a registered agent (RA3) in February. That means that ground handler can send cargo to the EU from any carrier, even if it’s not ACC3 validated.

The ground handler said it has 21 carriers flying to the EU, which would mean 21 different audits if the handler hadn’t become RA3 validated.

“We look at it commercially as well, and it would give us maybe an advantage over our competitors,” he said. “I think we took the right decision.”

But he said the EU could have had more of a dialogue with the air cargo community. Another audience member, whose company was ACC3 validated, said the information his company received from the EU was “sketchy.”

When asked whether there will be fines if companies aren’t ready by July 1, Jones dodged a clear answer.

“If people are not compliant, they’re not compliant,” he said.

Meijer advised companies in the air cargo industry to become verified so they can fly freight into the EU.

“It’s like getting your flu shot,” he said. “It’s really valuable, and you’ll be more competitive.”