Airlines and logistics organizations are scrambling to buy sniffer dogs to screen cargo on cargo flights in compliance with the new regulations, which are part of the stricter rules against terrorism.
As operators strive to find animals and X-ray inspection equipment in time by the July deadline, concerns about delivery delays have increased the demand for K9s or police dogs capable of sniffing explosives.
This is the latest threat to the supply chain, which has been under pressure due to the coronavirus crisis and the surge in online shopping that have increased the demand for international shipping.
When many passenger planes that usually carry half of the cargo are grounded, the demand for cargo has risen sharply, and air cargo has also been stretched.
These rules mean that all cargo on international cargo flights must be inspected. These rules have been proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The deadline has caused particular problems in the United States, because these groups are still a long way from realizing the ICAO rules, and the responsibility of who will screen the cargo is uncertain.
It expanded existing requirements to inspect cargo in the belly of passenger planes in response to the 2010 printer cartridge bomb bombing that targeted two cargo planes flying from Yemen to the United States.
Eric Hare, CEO of the Global K9 Conservation Organization, said: “This will double the size of the canine company.” He expects that by the end of July, his airborne dog handling team will increase from 125 Expanded to 225.
Competitor Cargo Screening K9 Alliance said that compared with 2020, the number of requests for quotations from air freighters, ground crews and logistics organizations for dogs received in the first five months of this year has doubled.
Industry insiders say that strong demand may now exceed supply.
“The question is whether there are enough dogs and a well-trained team to prepare for the deadline?” said Brandon Fried, chief executive of the Airforwarders Association, a trade agency.
Although dog suppliers insist that there are sufficient numbers of suitable animals, the sudden surge in interest means that it can be difficult to prepare them in time.
It takes about six to eight weeks to train and deploy a dog with its handler, and a cost of one hundred thousand dollars. Hare said: “There are enough dogs to complete this job, but there is not enough time to complete it.”
Express companies like UPS say they are fully prepared before the July deadline, but smaller air cargo companies and ground handling agents are more likely to get into trouble than some of their larger competitors.
The lack of a dog or X-ray machine before the deadline can cause serious delays because the goods stacked on the pallet must be taken apart for human inspection.
Exporters and importers face price increases to cover inspection costs.
According to Glyn Hughes, chief executive of the International Air Cargo Association, the ability of sniffer dogs to detect dangerous goods is unparalleled. He said: “The dog detection system is so precise.”
Although the deadline is too tight to deliver the automated screening system in time, as operators seek long-term solutions, stricter security rules will trigger a large amount of demand for security scanner manufacturers.
Smiths Detection’s aviation industry director Richard Thompson estimates that due to the increasing requirements of industry regulations, its 50 million pounds air cargo business will achieve double-digit growth. The company’s X-ray machines are used for airport security.