Friday's foiled terrorist attack, in which explosive-laden packages were removed from two commercial cargo flights, put air and cargo industries in the national spotlight. Will it help or hurt?
In the "help" column, the packages were discovered during a routine cargo screening, which prompted several non-routine screens of other planes and at least one cargo truck. The system worked. In the "hurt" column, potentially dangerous incidents like this one prompt a range of inquiries from lawmakers and the public about how the industry operates. At a minimum, that means the Transportation Security Administration and companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service will have to respond, costing time and money.
When the dust settles on this story, how will the air and cargo industries be viewed by policymakers and the public? Does the increased attention create an opportunity for transportation stakeholders to push a public policy agenda with Congress and the administration? What should the industry ask lawmakers to do? What should government, air, and cargo executives avoid in responding to the crisis?