Air Cargo to the U.S. and U.K. from Egypt Faces New Security Measures

In response to the devastating events of Metrojet flight 9268, the United States and the United Kingdom are restricting air cargo shipments from Egypt because of security concerns. Investigators believe that a planted bomb was the reason the flight crashed, killing all 224 passengers on the flight. Because of the apparent security lapses that possibly allowed someone to plant a bomb on the aircraft at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, EgyptAir also stopped carrying belly cargo on flights to London and U.S. destinations.

As a result, several sources indicate the United States banned all belly cargo on inbound flights to the United States from Egypt. Additionally, these new restrictions will quarantine air cargo destined for the U.S. from Egypt for 48 hours upon arrival at any Egyptian airport and also before transits on domestic flights from local airports. Currently, there are no direct flights to the U.S. from Sharm el-Sheikh. However, EgyptAir may be the biggest loser from the fallout of this tragedy. The carrier planned to expand air cargo services throughout Africa by using more wide-body planes. EgyptAir’s current business model for air cargo uses four A300 airplanes and ships the rest in the belly of passenger flights.

The new restrictions are also troubling for Egyptian exporters and could adversely affect trade around the region. Since most evidence points to a terrorist act committed by ISIL as the cause of the crash, similar safety precautions could apply to imports from other countries as the threat of more terrorist acts loom. Many Egyptian exporters expressed concerns that the restrictions are a “form of economic pressure” and they support placing more security measures on imports entering Egypt. They are also concerned about capacity limits because Egypt lacks main-deck services and relies heavily on passenger flights because there is not a sufficient fleet of aircraft specifically for transport. While it seems likely these measures will not affect non-perishable goods exports, it will affect Egyptian exporters of perishable goods to markets in the U.S. and Europe.