In the middle of New York’s deep freeze on Thursday, January 31st, the Air Cargo Association met at the Hilton Hotel at JFK Airport. The wall-to-wall crowd didn’t seem to mind the weather; they were more concerned about the somewhat confused state of the cargo environment.
There are a number of issues that are not critical as a single issue, but when you bring the entire range of problems into the mix, you get people in the logistic business wondering what they need to do to keep their business flourishing.
The most visible is the shutdown and Brandon Fried did not spend a lot of time on this because what could he say? We are in a stalemate and the situation shows no sign of resolution; certainly not short term and probably long term as well. The concern of course is that the federal workers will not be incented to continue working and cargo will be even slower going through the system. This will eventually definitely affect the bottom line.
Another area of concern is regulations, oversight and IT Tools. The two systems used to coordinate freight security processes are called Known Shipper Management System (KSMS) and Certified Cargo Security System (CCSS) and both of these systems are old, slow and difficult to manage. DHS recently awarded a contract for an IT firm to fix/rewrite KSMS at the cost of 1.7 Million dollars and are now in the process of looking at the same for CCSS.
Another area being looked at closely is the use of canines beyond what they are doing now for private firms and bringing them into the DHS Cargo Security arena. The use of canines is becoming a popular way to check cargo. There is no final agreement on this but the feeling is there will be an expanded role for canines.
Finally, the familiar topic of JFK’s inability to handle cargo came up and a number of problems identified in the article “Is Cargo in JFK’s Future” in the January edition of Metropolitan Airport News got into the discussion.
The back and forth was vigorous and the cargo people, even in this economically favorable period, are looking for answers to guide them through this difficult time.