Saturday, December 11, 2010

Air Freight Activity To Recommence Between UAE and Yemen

Scenes of Bomb Plot Surveyed for Security
Shipping News Feature

YEMEN – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – According to local Yemeni press reports the ban on freight travelling to the UAE has now been lifted after the incidents in October when unexploded bombs were found in Dubai and the UK. If the reports are correct it will have serious implications for any flights emanating from the UAE and doubtless even more stringent security methods will need to be employed.

Credit for the October plot was later claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and forensic examination of the bombs later identified Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a known member of the group as the person responsible for the devices. He has been linked previously to several attacks including the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Saudi counterterrorism official Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who was injured when al-Asiri’s younger brother, carrying a bomb inside his body, blew himself up.

Now it seems UAE officials have travelled to Yemen to satisfy themselves personally that the situation has changed sufficiently to warrant the commencement of trade. The Yemen Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority claim that they were informed yesterday of the UAE’s own CAA had completed an inspection of the country’s main international airports and declared themselves satisfied that all security measures reached the required international standards.

Despite the early reports there is at the time of going to press no confirmation on the websites of either of the aviation authorities concerned and no-one was available at the United Arab Emirates Embassy to comment.

Public confidence in air travel was deeply shaken, particularly in the United States, when it became generally known that a high percentage of airfreight was usually carried upon scheduled passenger services. Unlike those in the logistics industry who were aware that this is common practice the general public had seemingly long assumed that the rigorous personal security checks in place at all airports, designed to dissuade potential saboteurs, would eliminate the risk of an explosion.

Although air cargo is also subjected to scrutiny, following the October incidents there was intense interest from all quarters of the media to discover more about how freight is scanned. The Handy Shipping Guide Offices worldwide found themselves bombarded by both printed and online international press as well as TV and Radio stations demanding details of precisely how checks were carried out and what the efficiency of these were at individual airports.

The problem is of course that any information we disseminate as to precise procedures is open to misuse and therefore we declined to comment on exact details but what is generally known is of course that standards of inspection and pre flight retention at different locations vary widely in their efficacy.

In October it is apparent that it was only good fortune that the incidents were not far more serious. Air carriers world wide have adapted security procedures but, if confirmed, this latest move by the UAE authorities will doubtless bring even more scrutiny on any cargoes passing through the seven Emirates.

Photo: An undated image said to be of Hassan al-Asiri wanted in connection with terrorist offences