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Houston Gains New Air Cargo Status

IAH receives federal certification

Houston Airport System
April 25, 2010

© Houston Airport System
The Fresh Air Cargo center is now a Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF)

The Fresh Air Cargo center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is now officially recognized by the United States government as a Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF).

The designation comes from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and reflects a commitment within the Houston Airport System (HAS) to the goal of operating as an industry-leader when it comes to security-related matters.

“The IAH Fresh Air Cargo center is a state-of-the-art facility,” says Genaro Peña, HAS marketing director. “We were looking to the future when we went through the design process and now we’re employing that same forward-thinking to critical operational matters, such as cargo security.”

The federal program’s primary requirement is to ensure that all air cargo is screened prior to being loaded onto passenger flights and certified facilities must also adhere to a strict chain-of-custody policy.

In fact, the program stipulates that all cargo must be secured from the time it is packaged and shipped from the factory, until it is loaded onto a passenger aircraft.

Kerry Galegher, Director with the Tradewinds Cargo Handling Company, says adhering to this requirement is relatively easy for his operation, since perishable items are both secured and inspected in a climate-controlled environment.

“What this means is that we actually inspect the perishables in the cooler itself,” said Galagher. “In other operations the product has to be taken to a separate facility for inspection and that extra step breaks the cool chain.”

This on-site inspection offers two significant advantages, according to Galegher. The items being transported are held in a single secure area, and it is easier to maintain the desired temperature goal of 39 to 42 degrees.

That type of consistency in regards to climate control can make an enormous difference in maintaining and extending the shelf-life of a fruit, vegetable or flower, and represents a major selling point for the Fresh Air Cargo center.

For example, the facility is currently handling 50 to 75 tons of blackberries per week, which are grown in Mexico and then flown to various European countries. In the past, that fruit was often flown in the belly of a passenger plane that connected between London, England and Cancun, Mexico, which meant that the fruit was often subjected to extremely warm temperatures while waiting for the boarding process to be completed.

In striking contrast, products traveling through the IAH Fresh Air Cargo center have their temperature monitored and controlled throughout the duration of their journey, with status updates available to not only the team at Tradewinds, but also the shipper and receiver.

Copyright © 2010 - Houston Airport System

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