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Swiss airports operating; security tight

A Swissair plane bound for the US leaves Zurich airport

(Keystone)

Swiss airports have resumed business as usual after several international carriers, including Swissair, restored flights to the United States. Travellers heading to the US are faced with delays of about an hour because of tighter security measures.

"The situation is back to normal," said Sonja Zöchling, spokeswoman for Kloten airport.

The Care Team, which looks after stranded passengers, finished its work on Sunday after all passengers were able to continue their journeys. The Care Team is a joint operation of Swissair and Unique, the airport's operator, and is used in emergency situations.

All 14 Swissair flights to the US, which are daily operating out of Switzerland, were able to leave for their destinations. Only one flight operated by the US carrier, Delta Airlines, was cancelled on Monday.

Some of Swissair's passengers had cancelled their flights or did not turn up at the airport at all, said Swissair spokesman Jean-Claude Donzel. He did not reveal any exact figures but said those cancellations would not have an impact on the airline.

Shares of Swissair fell by 11.2 per cent at the at the start of trading on Monday as a result of numerous flight cancellations to North America, Israel, Lebanon and Libya as a security precaution after Tuesday's terrorist attack in the US.

Banned articles

Airlines issued lists of banned articles, including knives, and intensified searches of passengers and luggage on Saturday to comply with new measures introduced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). International carriers were obliged to implement the measures in order to secure permission to resume flights to the US.

At Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, crowds were so large that Air France ticket staff stood on top of check-in counters to call out passengers' names from waiting lists.

Britain's Transport Secretary, Stephen Byers, said he was considering posting armed guards on British airliners and ordering airlines to secure cockpit doors to foil suicidal attackers - precautions already in place on the Israeli airline, El Al.

Travellers using British airports have been forbidden to carry on board toy or replica guns, household cutlery - including knives of any kind - letter openers, corkscrews with blades, catapults, razor blades, tradesmen's tools, darts, scissors, knitting needles and sports goods such as rackets, cricket bats, golf clubs and pool cues.

Hypodermic needles are also forbidden, and travellers who need them for medical reasons will be asked for proof.

Background checks

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said they were conducting background checks on some passengers and scanning travellers and luggage more carefully. Both airlines also replaced silver cutlery with plastic.
The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called a meeting - expected to take place within the next few days - of its security committee to discuss ways of preventing hijackings, according to spokesman William Gaillard.

IATA, which represents 266 carriers, says airlines around the world are facing losses and extra costs of around $10 billion (SFr16.6 billion) because of cancellations, delays and tighter security measures.

Gaillard said the US aviation market, much of which remained closed until Saturday, was worth about $1 billion a day.

swissinfo with agencies


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