LONDON — The glaring weakness of the cargo shipping system has been laid bare by the Yemen-based mail bomb plot — but the cost of fixing it may be too high for governments, airlines and shippers to stomach during a global downturn.
Analysts warn that the cost of screening every piece of air cargo that enters the shipping system in a bid to prevent terror gangs from downing airliners might bankrupt international shipping companies, hobble the already weakened airlines, and still wouldn't provide comprehensive protection.
"In a worst case, it would stop world trade," said James Halstead, a longtime consultant with the Aviation Economics firm. "UPS and FedEx would probably go bust, we'd have a full disaster scenario. The cost of the extra effort involved in putting in security checks to find these sorts of bombs would be almost too much to consider."