In security audits conducted last week by an international squad of experts in the Cologne area, watchdogs detected infringements and omissions violating legal provisions in cargo security. While some firms were cleared, confirming their proper operations, three local agents had their status as Regulated Agents withdrawn.
Affected are Klink Cargo, CSP Cargo Service Point and Sovereign Speed, all three operating from off airport located facilities. “Our Cologne office received an RA license eight years ago, they were subject to various audits ever since without any complaints from official side about their daily operation,” wonders owner Karim El-Sayegh of Sovereign Speed why the controllers detected security loopholes this time.
Inquisition-like mode of questioning
Sovereign Cologne lost its RA status last Wednesday evening after a squad consisting of international and German security watchdogs rushed into their facility, checking all processes, X-ray filings and the shipment data meticulously, not leaving one stone unturned. The auditing team left the building three hours later, after having interrogated some of the staff on duty during that particular nightshift that reminded El-Sayegh on “procedures practiced by secret services,” as the manager puts it.
“There might have been some misunderstanding leading to misinterpretations,” El-Sayegh says retrospectively. This, because the conversation, “which was held in an inquisition-like mode, was done in English without our operating staff possessing an English professorship,” he complaints.
LBA remains silent
Asked about the Sovereign allegation, regulator Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA) did not comment on our request !
So far, Sovereign only can speculate which infringements they are accused of, because they haven’t received the official protocol yet. Instead, the auditors told the management on the spot that Sovereign Cologne has lost its RA license with immediate effect. “Once we know their complaints in detail we will certainly do our utmost to overcome any faults as fast as we can to regain the RA status for our Cologne branch,” assures the manager. Until then, Sovereign’s local office will send all shipments that are bound to be uplifted in CGN to handling agent Wisskirchen, El-Sayegh told CargoForwarder Global, where the goods will be X-rayed, screened or in other form secured before taking off on board an aircraft.
Relying on external support
The same accounts for Klink Cargo that also lost its RA permit – at least for the time being. “Until further notice, we will cooperate with partnering firms for securing our shipments,” states Klink’s MD Joerg Zimmermann. As a result of the audit, his company’s operational processes will undergo thorough internal checks, to act in line with the official requirements and prevent any future objections by watchdogs. “As a passenger I myself want to continue flying with a clear conscience that cargo transported in the holds of the aircraft is secure,” states Joerg.
He admits that losing the RA license is a major annoyance, costing reputation and irritating some of his firm’s clients.
Warning signal to the industry!
Of only “little things” detected by the watchdogs speaks also CSP Cargo Service Point, the third agent that lost their RA license last week as a consequence of the audits. “The inspectors took a very pedantic approach, claiming every trifling thing.” However, all this whining doesn’t help the agent in getting back its lost RA status.
Looking at the controls from a neutral perspective they must be seen as a warning signal to the industry to do their homework in security matters, working efficiently according to official requirements or live with the consequences of losing their status as Regulate Agents should inspectors detect any infringements.