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March 20, 2014

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Courier firms, agents face tough scrutiny

LOCAL courier firms and air freight agents face stiff scrutiny after a package on a commercial aircraft caught fire early this week, officials said yesterday.

Shanghai’s postal authority said it will blacklist courier firms and their representatives of domestic airlines if they are found transporting dangerous cargo on flights.

The China Aviation Transport Association also said it will carry out an overhaul of its 3,700 air freight agents, mostly in Shanghai, and eliminate hundreds of them to ensure safety in the air. “We would rather remove hundreds of the agents or courier firms to ensure safety of passengers,” Wei Zhenzhong, secretary general of the association, told courier firms and agents.

A Juneyao Airlines Flight HO1253 from Shanghai to Beijing was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Shandong Province on Monday after a fire alarm went off in the front cargo cabin at 7:52pm.

The cargo carrier license of Shanghai-based STO courier firm was suspended along with the business licenses of two agencies, which delivered a package containing Diethylaminosulphur trifluoride to the airline, Wei said.

An investigation into the incident found that STO first handed over the package to an agency named Bingxing, which in turn passed it over to another agency Shenhaijie. But Juneyao Airlines was not warned that it contained flammable material.

“It is a common practice in the air cargo industry as it chases profits,” said Liu Guoqing, deputy director of the Pudong International Airport police.

Many courier firms and agents ignore the regulation on banned dangerous items to survive competition in the industry, Liu said. He said though all air freight are scanned through X-rays, some dangerous items occasionally gets through.

Only some packages are picked randomly for inspection.

The charges to transport dangerous materials are double than the ordinary cargo and courier firms and agents therefore tend to conceal the fact.

In a previous incident, a China Southern Airlines flight from Shanghai to Dalian caught fire.

Courier firm YTO Express was found illegally transporting packages of fire sticks on the flight.


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