DUBAI: The two hub airports of the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, face less pressure compared to other Gulf hubs, in adhering to new air cargo compliance procedures and additional screening ordered by the US, aviation experts said.
Already both airports are fully compliant with all regulatory security requirements across their operations and the new US requirement for additional screening therefore will have minimal impact on freight movements to the US, they said.
The US authorities issued an emergency order on Monday requiring additional screening of cargo on flights departing for the United States from five Mideast countries, citing a threat of terrorism.
“The US Transportation Security Administration order is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks in response to “persistent threats to aviation,” TSA said in a statement. The countries falling under this order are Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.
Officials said the decision was based on intelligence indicating potential bomb attacks. The new rules will apply to all cargo on passenger or cargo-only flights.
Etihad Airways 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. Emirates, and Saudia did not respond to requests for comment.
Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London’s StrategicAero Research, said the additional screening would likely have minimal disruption given that freight can always be offloaded and put on multiple other flights to avoid delays for passengers.
“Equally, the UAE has an exceptional record for safety- these new measures will further enhance their compliance and if anything, make transit freight and origin freight easier to move through differing cargo facilities while conforming to a uniform set of rules,” Ahmad told ? Khaleej Times.
He said Dubai’s new airport, Dubai World Central, would also be able to show its capability to handle some extra check related delays due to the size and stature of the airport and its facilities.
“Costs will only rise if the US adds additional measures that extrapolated into more human intervention and scanning that therefore needs more manpower. Given the technological advances in screening, costs to adhere to these new compliance checks will likely be negligible.
“As a result, the UAE hubs will face less pressure than say smaller hubs like Bahrain, Kuwait and even Qatar,” he said.
As per the new US order, six Middle East-based airlines must now participate in additional cargo screening for flights entering the United States.
Apart from Emirates, and Etihad, these include Egypt Air, Royal Jordanian, Saudia and Qatar Airways. The six carriers operate flights to the US from seven points-of-departure airports in five countries: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.
“These countries were chosen because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them,” the TSA said in a statement.
TSA said most of the requirements of the emergency order are already being carried out voluntarily by airlines in some countries, but didn’t identify the countries.
Under the requirements of the order, airlines are supposed to provide certain information on the shipments “at the earliest practical point” before loading the cargo to US customs officials. The shipment information is then compared to information the US has on terror threats.
The five countries from where the six airlines fly were included in the Department of Homeland Security’s previous laptop ban, which prohibited passengers from packing in their carry-on luggage computers, tablets, cameras, and other electronic devices larger than a phone. The laptop ban was instituted in March and reversed in July.