Germany purges air-cargo industry after Yemen bombs

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BERLIN - In a purge of the German air cargo industry, three companies lost their licences Wednesday.

Authorities cracked down after the bomb scare at the end of October, when a time bomb sent from Yemen as an air parcel passed through a transshipment depot in Cologne undetected.

It was only intercepted in England after a tip-off from a former Al Qaeda member that two bombs were on the move.

After 70 freight companies were vetted, the Federal Aviation Agency stripped three companies in North Rhine-Westphalia state of their title of “known consignor”. The status means they can send freight without it having to be x-rayed at airports.

To become a known consigner, businesses have to follow security rules, check the background of staff and undergo site inspections.

Another three companies had their applications to become “regulated agents” rejected. Agents conduct the security checks that are a private-enterprise substitute for airport scrutiny of air freight.

The purge is aimed at cleaning up the industry, which is concerned that it may be brought under costly police supervision if it cannot get its house in order quickly. Government inspection of all freight would drastically increase transport costs.

The Transport Ministry in Berlin said the checks also found minor inadequacies at about 20 companies, including guards who could not produce their training certificates and bills of lading that were not properly filled in.

They were given deadlines to fix the issues or lose their licences too.

Filed under: Terrorism

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