U.S. Cracks Down on Six Middle Eastern Airlines With Cargo Screening Protocols

The emergency amendment focuses on 'locations where the threat is greatest', includes Emirates, Royal Jordanian and Egypt Air

Emirates SkyCentral of the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, November 9, 2015.
Kamran Jebreili (AP)

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said on Monday it will require six Middle Eastern airlines to undergo enhanced cargo screening as part of an effort to raise global aviation security.

The emergency amendment covers airlines in five countries flying out of seven airports and focuses “on last points of departure locations where the threat is greatest,” TSA said in a statement.

This comes as the Trump administration has been working to increase international airport security.

The airlines and airports are: Egypt Air operating out of Cairo International Airport, Royal Jordanian RJAL.AM operating out of Queen Alia International Airport, Saudia operating out of King Abdul-Aziz International Airport and King Khalid International Airport, Qatar Airways operating out of Doha International Airport and Emirates and Etihad operating out of Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport.

All cargo originating from those airports will have to be screened and secured under Air Cargo Advance Screening protocols. The TSA said most of the requirements were already being voluntarily applied by airlines around the world.

Airlines must submit advance air cargo data to U.S. authorities. The program uses U.S. Department of Homeland Security “threat information and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted vetting.”

Royal Jordanian spokeswoman said the airline had “received this new amendment from TSA to be implemented on air cargo shipments, and we were given one month period to apply the new amendment.”

Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Saudi Arabian Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In October, new security measures including stricter passenger screening started taking effect on all U.S.-bound flights, including some short security interviews with passengers at check-in or the boarding gate.

In September, TSA issued a new security directive requiring enhanced screening of cargo from Turkey after an incident in Australia that occured in July, in which an Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to Sydney airport to catch an Etihad Airways flight carrying a home-made bomb disguised as a meat mincer built at the direction of a senior Islamic State commander.

High-grade military explosives used to build the bomb were sent by air cargo from Turkey.

In July, the United States lifted restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.