Cargo was one of the top items that Mayor Reed discussed with Louis Miller, Hartsfield's new general manager, during the hiring process. Cargo was one of the top items that Mayor Reed discussed with Louis Miller, Hartsfield's new general manager, during the hiring process. [Enlarge]

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed left Tuesday, Nov. 2, on a five-day trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands, to sell Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's cargo advantages to industry leaders.

Mr. Reed planned to meet with companies, including the cargo unit of Emirates Airlines, during the The International Air Cargo Association's 2010 forum and exposition. He also planned to invite attendees to Atlanta, where the biennial event will be held next in 2012.

"I've made supporting and boosting the promotion of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport as an air cargo hub a top priority of my administration, and I think you show what is important by where you spend your time and where you are present," Mr. Reed told GlobalAtlanta in an interview.

Mr. Reed has traveled throughout the U.S. and has hosted about 45 foreign delegations since taking office in January, but the Amsterdam trip is his first representing the city overseas.

The visit comes at a time of uncertainty for the air cargo industry. Last week, bombs shipped from Yemen were intercepted on cargo jets headed to England and Dubai and ultimately bound for the U.S. One of the bombs was found on a flight operated by Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc. The threat has prompted calls to improve cargo screening worldwide.

Mr. Reed's group will get a feel at the conference for how industry leaders plan to address this crucial issue, said Harold Hagans, president of Atlanta Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders.

"They should come back with just loads and loads and loads of what's being proposed around the world," Mr. Hagans said.

All cargo on passenger flights originating in the U.S. is screened, as per Transportation Security Administration guidelines, Mr. Hagans said, but European countries are less strict.

TSA has specific security guidelines for all-cargo international flights to the U.S., covering where the cargo is kept and who can access it, as well as how employees are trained to handle it. All cargo deemed "high-risk" is screened.

U.S. officials said Nov. 2 that any new security measures shouldn't stifle trade.

Whatever happens, the industry will be able to conform to the new regulations, said Mr. Hagans.

"You don't have an impossible task. It might be more time-consuming and more detailed, but you just do it. You just adapt," Mr. Hagans said. Hector Romero, vice president of Atlanta Customs Brokers, is attending the Amsterdam forum, along with representatives from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the airport.

For Mr. Reed, air cargo was in the spotlight long before the foiled bombings. Cargo was one of the top items that he discussed with Louis Miller, Hartsfield's new general manager, during his application process.

Mr. Miller said the mayor is a strong ally in the airport's quest to draw more all-cargo carriers to Atlanta, a goal that will be advanced by hosting the conference, he said.

"The very first TIACA conference was held in Atlanta in 1962, and we are excited to host the 50th Anniversary TIACA conference in 2012," Mr. Miller said. "The successful growth of air cargo operations at Hartsfield-Jackson is economically important to not only Atlanta but the entire U.S. Southeast region."

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