Airline Industry Supply Chain Threats

Published on December 7, 2016 by Courtney Foster

Supply chain risk concerns are increasingly becoming more important to the Airline industry, as commercial engagements between Airline Operators and their suppliers of Ground Handling Agents (GHAs) become more global in nature. A stronger focus on safety and security issues/compliance needs to become a more integral part of these commercial relationships between GHAs and Airline Operators, given the increasing safety and security risks of terrorism, corruption, illicit smuggling, and cargo theft across the globe. 

An example is shown in a recently reported BSI SCREEN Spotlight News Story:

“Authorities at El Dorado Airport, located in Bogota, Colombia, seized about 43 kilograms of cocaine that was concealed inside a wooden pallet used for air cargo shipments. According to reports, counternarcotics officers grew suspicious of the wooden pallet because it looked too new and perfect. Officers decided to weigh the wooden pallet, which was much heavier than normal. Further inspection revealed the packages of cocaine sealed between the wooden slats of the pallet. Officials indicated that wooden pallets are used exclusively by one airline and its employees, suggesting that a corrupt worker is likely responsible for introducing the cocaine-laden pallet. The pallet would have been loaded with cargo and sent to Milan, Italy.”

If the Airline Industry seriously incorporates its concentration around safety and security in the movement of cargo, there will be several implicit positive benefits. To name a few, there will be closer collaboration between the GHAs and the Airline Operators, a stronger sense of consistency across the industry in approaching these risk areas, reduction in damages, incidents, and injuries of personnel.

Enforcing Security and Safety measures

To accomplish this goal of increasing commitment to these issues, the Airline industry as a whole needs to incorporate key security and safety criteria into the commercial contracts and auditing protocols between Airline Operators and GHAs. A universal, prescribed set of auditing criteria relating to safety and security can bring shared benefits of eliminating audit redundancy, audit costs, and an overall universal approach to countering safety and security threats in the Airline industry globally.