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Britain: 'Specific Information' Prompted Flight Cancellations - 2004-01-04


A British government minister says British Airways flights to Washington and Riyadh were canceled because of "specific information" supported by U.S. intelligence.

Transport Minister Alistair Darling did not elaborate. But he told BBC radio today (Saturday) the terrorist threat to airlines may last for many years and tighter security will, from time to time, inconvenience the flying public.

Mr. Darling made the comments as British Airways Flight 223 to Washington took off from London, after being canceled Friday and Thursday. An airline spokeswoman said today's flight was delayed for three hours because of U.S.-requested information on passengers.

British Airways says it has not yet decided whether to resume the flight from London to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that was canceled for today (Saturday).

Because of security concerns, airlines have canceled seven U.S. - bound flights since Wednesday -- two AeroMexico flights from Mexico City, three Air France flights from Paris, and the two British Airways flights from London. Other international flights have been delayed, or turned back, and U.S. fighter planes have escorted others while they were in U.S. airspace.

There have been no reports of arrests or detentions because of any of the flight cancellations or delays.

Information for this report is provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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