Stricter Cargo Security in U.S. to Cost Airlines NIS 10m a Year

The new measures, which include more scanning, might usher an increase of the maximum prices for flying shipments or the introduction of a security fee on exporters.

The price for sending air freight overseas could soon rise due to stricter U.S. security demands that could halt flights to the United States if not carried out. The companies affected would be El Al Israel Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways.

To meet the U.S. requirements, the Transportation and Finance Ministries might have to increase the maximum prices for flying shipments abroad or impose a security fee on exporters. Meanwhile, attempts are under way to craft cheaper security procedures, but these would require U.S. approval.

The issue was raised at a meeting last week in Jerusalem between the two ministries and the Shin Bet security service, sources told TheMarker. But no agreement was reached on how the measures, which require around NIS 10 million a year, should be funded. The United States wants Israel to agree to its new demands by September 30.

The United States wants stricter security on cargo flights or combined passenger and cargo flights by the four companies. The checks, which include more scanning, would require more security personnel.

The stricter arrangement was meant to go into effect by September, but a disagreement broke out between Transportation Ministry and cargo terminal officials on how the expense would be covered, and the Shin Bet is not yet fully on board. Disagreements over the new setup arose during a recent visit to Israel by a team from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

The Finance Ministry says talks on the matter are continuing with the Transportation Ministry. The first half of 2013 saw a 7% drop in air cargo from the same period a year before, while 2012 suffered a 4% fall from 2011. Cargo weighing 22,740 tons was flown to and from Ben-Gurion International Airport last month, against 23,500 tons in June 2012.

Sivan Faraj