Fight Over Inspection Costs Threatens Air Cargo

New procedures entail higher level of image scanning and more comprehensive inspections, all of which would require more personnel and more expenses; dispute over who is to bear the costs.

Disagreement between the Transportation Ministry and air cargo terminal operators over who will foot the bill for tighter security arrangements at Ben-Gurion International Airport threatens to choke off Israeli exports to the United goods, TheMarker has learned.

The dispute arose after a team from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration examined procedures in Israel last week and outlined the new procedures they require. They entail a higher level of image scanning and more comprehensive inspections, all of which would require more personnel in Israel.

That led to a fight between the Transportation Ministry and cargo terminal operators at Ben-Gurion airport over who will pay for the higher costs. The new procedures are scheduled to take effect in September.

At issue is cargo flown directly to the United States on dedicated cargo flights operated by El Al as well as by United, Delta Air Lines and US Airways.

The vast majority of cargo leaves Israel through its three maritime ports. Nevertheless 22,600 tons of air freight entered or left Ben-Gurion last month, compared with 24,000 tons in April 2012, according to the Airports Authority, Flights dedicated to cargo carried 12,700 tons in April, 3.7% more than the 12,300 tons carried in April 2012.

The Transportation Ministry declined to comment on the story, saying it doesn’t alert the media to matters connected with aviation security. EL Al also had no comment. 

AP