Sniffer Dogs to Increase FRA’s Cargo Tonnage
Since years, freight volumes have stagnated or even decreased at Frankfurt airport. Now the operator hopes to regain some of the lost tonnage that has migrated to AMS or CDG where shipments are
handled easier and faster in compliance with security requirements. Sniffer dogs are FRA’s secret recipe for regaining market shares.
It was at the Masonic lodge “Unity No 1” at Downtown Frankfurt where the Rhine-Main operator rolled out its scheme to “bring back home our air freight.”
Unusual location for running a security conference on air freight
Indeed an extraordinary place, inaccessible for normal mortals unless they belong to the community of Freemasons.
The 1894-96-built venue was picked by Lufthansa Cargo to carry out their 6th Security Conference, a biannual event tightly organized and brilliantly orchestrated by their Head of Security
and Environment, Harald Zielinski and his entire team.
Titled “Is REST Cargo a comprehensive means of controlling air freight efficiently,” Fraport’s newly appointed Head of Airport Security Erich Keil rolled out an optimistic vision. According to the manager, FRA’s annual throughput could increase by roughly 70,000 tons if security checks under the REST Cargo label were given the green light by the authorities. REST is the acronym for ‘Remote Explosive Scent Tracing’, describing a process for screening cargo shipments by taking air samples of an entire truckload, a single box or individual package and having explosive detection dogs analyzing them remotely.
Encouraging REST tests
The samples are brought to the canines accommodated in contamination-free buildings, where the dogs start doing their sniffing job to detect evaporating explosive molecules emitting from the packages even if they are completely wrapped in a plastic foil or if the contents are stowed in closed boxes.
“The REST scheme for securing cargo is easy to perform, fast, reliable and cost-efficient,” Herr Keil assured the 130 attendees at the LH Cargo’s event. Particularly the massive timesaving gained this way makes this scheme highly attractive for forwarders and shippers. The snag is: In Germany the entire endeavor is still a pilot project, currently undergoing thorough inspections to prevent any malfunctioning. This way, the authorities want to make sure whether it works highly efficiently in daily cargo practice at airports like FRA. The status is that some “very encouraging tests” have been concluded, noted manager Keil. Next to come is a scientific investigation focusing on the technical requirements, not the dogs, announced Birgit Loga, Head of the Aviation Security Division at German regulator Luftfahrt-Bundesamt. “We support the fastest possible introduction of remote acting sniffer dogs but can’t predict the duration of the approval procedure,” she said.
Security patchwork EU
This provoked LH Cargo’s Head of Communication and moderator of the security conference Michael Goentgens to ask Mrs Loga how come that a scheme that obviously works well in two neighboring EU member states, namely France and The Netherlands, needs to be tested and approved anew in Germany. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the LBA to exchange information and experience with the local authorities and airport officials gained in Paris and Amsterdam and adopt their practices?, he asked.
Loga’s sobering answer to this. “As LBA we have approached the national aviation authorities in both cases but they weren’t very supportive and remained tight-lipped.”
So much for combined security cooperation within Europe!
German air freight creates jobs – in AMS or CDG
No wonder in view of the masses of exports trucked from Germany across the borders to AMS and CDG day after day, nose-controlled by trained canines within minutes and loaded as secured freight in the holds or main decks of aircraft right after. That ups revenues and creates new jobs.
“Mainly due to REST Cargo, Frankfurt loses considerable air freight volumes each year to Amsterdam or Paris. This we expect to regain once REST Cargo is officially approved by the LBA,” hopes Fraport’s Erich Keil.
Operational differences like 24/7/365 traffic allowance at Amsterdam or Liege which conflict with Frankfurt’s night flight ban between 11 pm and 5 am which might be an important decision criterion for forwarders to opt for airport A or B was not touched upon in the presentation or during the panel discussion that followed right after Mr Keils appearance.