In the wake of September 11th and following an overemphasis on passenger air travel security, the air cargo system has become a potential target for terrorists. European countries have undertaken various regulatory approaches that involve technology and operational measures aimed at addressing the perceived security threats in the air cargo industry.
The air cargo transportation system is designed to provide fast and efficient shipment of goods, two features that make it highly vulnerable to potential security threats. Similar to other components of the aviation system, the proper functioning of air cargo transport affects the economic vitality not only of the aviation industry, but also of the national and international high-value, “just-in-time” supply chain that serves many globally operating other industries. In the new fast-cycle logistic era, air cargo enables businesses, regardless of their location, to connect distant markets and global supply chains in an efficient, expeditious, and reliable manner.
Transportation of goods by air has become an essential component of contemporary world economy. Due to increased market demands, the volume of cargo transported by air was multiplied by 5 between 1990 and 2010. Despite the recent economic slowdown and the shift to other transportation modes, air cargo traffic is still expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% in the next 5 years. In this context, vulnerabilities in air cargo security place at risk the entire air transportation system if exploited by terrorists and could prove extremely harmful to the European (and global) economy.