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Old April 22nd, 2006, 09:48 PM   #261
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Old May 28th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #262
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Ferrovial says open to any UK airports probe

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - Spain's Grupo Ferrovial said on Friday is ready for any regulatory review if its 8.75 billion pound ($16.35 billion) bid for UK airports group BAA Plc goes through, noting such probes had been held before.

News that Britain's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) might review the structure of the UK airports sector triggered a sharp fall in BAA shares a day earlier as investors feared the takeover might collapse.

"If ADI (the bidding consortium) is successful in its offer for BAA, ADI will of course cooperate fully with any review, if the OFT does in due course decide to initiate one," Ferrovial said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

ADI, or Airport Development and Investment Ltd, is a consortium Ferrovial has formed with Canada's Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and Singapore's GIC Special Investments Pte Ltd.

"ADI is familiar with the UK regulatory framework and the various reviews that may take place.

"Indeed, the structure of the market has been considered at regular intervals since BAA Plc was privatised," Ferrovial said.

BAA has faced calls for breaking up the company for years because of its dominant position in Britain, where it owns seven airports including three which dominate the lucrative London market.

Analysts said past probes had had little impact on BAA.

"This may renew break-up calls but to us it is hard to see the (OFT's) conclusions differing from previous bodies' investigations into airport structure (which resulted in no real change to the ownership of BAA's London airports)," said JP Morgan analyst Damian Brewer.

BAA shares were up 2.86 percent at 810 pence as of 1202 GMT, outpacing London's FTSE index which was up 0.75 percent.

Ferrovial shares were up 2.18 percent at 61.05 euros.

On Thursday, BAA tried in its formal takeover defence to entice shareholders to reject Ferrovial by offering a 40-percent larger dividend and a 750-million-pound share buyback and arguing BAA was worth more than 10 billion pounds.

Ferrovial said it would respond to BAA's defence documents in due course. Under UK bid regulations the firm has until June 5 to make any changes to its offer.

BAA rejected a separate 9.4 billion pound takeover approach from a consortium led by U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs in April.

At 8.75 billion pounds, Ferrovial's offer is above the current 8.5 billion-pound market capitalisation of BAA but the British firm's chief executive, Mike Clasper, on Thursday argued any bidder ought to pay a control premium.

Prospects of a takeover have added more than 2 billion pounds to BAA's value since February.

($1=.5350 Pound)

(Additional reporting by Gavin Haycock)
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Old June 6th, 2006, 03:49 PM   #263
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BAA agrees to Ferrovial takeover

Airports operator BAA has confirmed its support for a takeover by Spanish building group Ferrovial.
BAA, which runs seven UK airports, has agreed to an offer of 950.25 pence a share offer, valuing it at £10.3bn.


Ferrovial beat off competition from a consortium led by US bank Goldman Sachs, which said it had made an offer worth a total of 955.25p a share.

Goldman Sachs urged shareholders "to take no action" and promised a further announcement "in due course".

On Tuesday, the Takeover Panel extended the deadline for a bid from the Goldman Sachs consortium to 16 June.

Bid battle


BAA, which operates airports handling 63% of all air passengers entering or leaving the UK, had previously resisted being taken over, but is now recommending the Ferrovial approach to shareholders.

Ferrovial's latest offer marks a 17% price increase on its original 810 pence-per-share approach, and is 49% than the level BAA's share price was at before Ferrovial's interest became known.

BAA PASSENGER NUMBERS*
Heathrow - 67.7 million a year
Gatwick - 32 million
Stansted - 22 million
Southampton - 1.5 million
Glasgow - 8.7 million
Edinburgh - 8 million
Aberdeen - 2.7 million
Source: BAA

Discussions regarding a takeover have been going on since February, when Ferrovial said it was considering an approach for the Heathrow Airport operator.

Two months later, the Spanish group made a hostile takeover bid for BAA, after the UK firm's board rejected its approaches.

The Ferrovial consortium's 950.25p-per-share offer includes a proposed final dividend of 15.25p per share. The Goldman Sachs-led consortium's offer of 955.25p a share also included a 15.25p dividend.

The Ferrovial consortium's bid vehicle, Airport Development and Investment Limited (ADI), said it would safeguard the existing employment rights of all BAA group employees, including pensions rights, but added that it would also examine ways to cut costs.

Competition question
BAA - which, in addition to owning seven UK airports, also has business interests in the US, Italy and Hungary - has been seen as a popular takeover target for companies hoping to exploit the surge in air travel worldwide.

FERROVIAL GROUP PROFILE Annual revenues of 8,989m euros
Employs more than 78,000 workers
Has a presence in 40 countries
In 2005, 46% of operating profits came from outside Spain
Owns 50% of Bristol airport
Owns 100% of Belfast City airport
Owns 20.9% of Sydney airport
Owns 100% of Cerro Moreno airport, Chile
Listed on the Madrid stock exchange

However, the company is facing a possible competition probe.

At the end of May, the Office of Fair Trading said that it might examine whether BAA's dominance as an airport operator was against the public interest.

BAA's debt will increase greatly regardless of whether it is owned by either Goldman or Ferrovial.

However, both bidding groups have insisted that the costs of servicing this debt would not lead them to cut the hugely-expensive investments being made by BAA - such as the construction of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

Shares in BAA rose by 2.26% to reach 949 pence in morning trading after the announcement. Grupo Ferrovial's shares were down 2.7% at 59.3 euros.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5050932.stm
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Old June 24th, 2006, 06:53 AM   #264
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Aircraft overshoots runway at Scottish airport

LONDON, June 23, 2006 (AFP) - An aircraft travelling from Norway with 16 passengers on board overshot the end of Aberdeen Airport in northeast Scotland Thursday night, airport operator BAA said.

The incident, in which no one was reported injured, happened just before 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) and involved a City Star flight from Stavanger.

The 16 passengers and three crew disembarked safely from the 30-seat twin propeller Dornier 328 aircraft.

The aircraft is not thought to have been damaged but the airport's runway was closed, forcing all flights to be diverted to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

A spokesman for BAA, which owns the airport, said: "A City Star flight overshot the runway as it landed this evening but no one was injured and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will investigate."
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Old June 26th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #265
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Monday June 26, 5:22 PM
Virgin Atlantic profit doubles on premium traffic

LONDON (Reuters) - Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways , which has triggered a price-fixing inquiry into arch-rival British Airways Plc , posted a doubling in yearly profits on Monday after attracting more businesses travelers.

Virgin's annual results came amid a UK-U.S. investigation into alleged cartel activity over airline fuel surcharges which was launched following a tip-off by Virgin to British regulators.

One U.S. law firm has already launched a class-action lawsuit against airlines over the price-fixing allegations, according to UK newspapers, which an industry source said on Monday was not being taken as a serious threat for the carriers.

Virgin, which competes with British Airways for premium-paying passengers, said its business passengers rose 10 percent in the year after it launched new upper-class facilities.

The airline, 51 percent owned by Branson and 49 percent by Singapore Airlines Ltd. , also launched new routes to India and the Caribbean in the year, which helped offset a 30 percent jump in fuel costs and tough transatlantic competition.

Profit before tax and exceptionals for year ending February 28 rose to 41.6 million pounds ($76.1 million) from 20 million a year ago, the airline said.

Revenues increased 17 percent to 1.9 billion pounds and passenger numbers rose 11 percent to 4.9 million.

Virgin approached Britain's Office of Fair Trading about alleged conversations between a BA executive and one of its staff last year to sound out plans to increase fuel surcharges on long-haul flights, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Saturday.

The civil and criminal probe into an alleged cartel was announced last week after regulators raided BA's offices. BA put two senior executives on leave.

American Airlines and United Airlines said they were cooperating with the inquiry but were not targets.

A British Airways spokeswoman declined to comment on UK newspaper reports the OFT was examining e-mails sent by BA staff or that former Chief Executive Rod Eddington may be questioned.

BA shares, which fell about 6 percent on news of the inquiry last week, were trading 0.4 percent weaker at 346 pence at 0857 GMT.

Virgin's tip off underscores long-time rivalry between the two airlines, which peaked in 1993 when Branson accused BA of waging a "dirty tricks" campaign against his airline.

(Additional reporting by Jason Neely)
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 09:12 AM   #266
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British regulator confirms competition probe into airports sector

LONDON, June 30, 2006 (AFP) - Britain's Office of Fair Trading said Friday that it would probe British airports operator BAA's market domination.

The news comes amid the agreed takeover of BAA by a consortium led by the Spanish construction group Ferrovial.

"The OFT today (Friday) announced that it is to study the UK airports market with a view to establishing whether the current market structure works well for consumers," the regulator said in an official announcement.

"The decision to proceed to a market study reflects the importance of airports to consumers and businesses within the UK."

Almost two-thirds of British air passengers began or ended their journey at BAA's airports, the OFT said.

"Within the London area this rises to nine out of ten passengers, and in Scotland over eight out of ten air passengers fly from a BAA airport."

The OFT had not yet decided whether to refer the case to the Competition Commission for an in-depth investigation, according to the statement.

"Greater competition between airlines over the past decade has led to wider choice for air travellers and lower fares," added OFT chief executive John Fingleton.

"We now think it is time to explore the potential for greater competition within the airport industry.

On June 6, the board of BAA had accepted the Ferrovial consortium's takeover bid worth 10.23 billion pounds (14.8 billion dollars, 19.2 billion dollars).

BAA owns seven British airports, including London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Ferrovial, which represents 65 percent of the consortium, manages Belfast airport and Bristol and Exeter airports in western England.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 10:45 PM   #267
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BA says June traffic up, mum on cartel probe

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - British Airways reported a 6.6 percent rise in June traffic on Wednesday while declining to comment on a probe into suspected cartel activity by Europe's third-largest airline in setting fares.

BA said its load factor, a measure of how well it is filling planes, was up 2.7 points to 81.6 percent.

Premium passenger traffic rose 11.7 percent in June while market conditions remained broadly unchanged, BA said in a statement.

Asked for an update on a probe of BA which saw Britain's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) raid its offices last month, a spokeswoman said: "We're not going there."

BA put two executives on leave in the wake of the investigation.

Analysts say BA could face fines of up to 300 million pounds ($554 million) if found guilty in the investigation, which also involves the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some analysts say BA could also risk having lucrative transatlantic routes into London's Heathrow airport opened up to more carriers, something rivals have urged for years.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 10:48 PM   #268
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British Airways to launch service from London to Calgary in December
5 July 2006

LONDON (AP) - British Airways PLC said on Wednesday that it plans to launch a new service from London Heathrow to Calgary in Canada on Dec. 1.

BA said it will operate five flights each week on a Boeing 777 to the city in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The airline will also launch an eighth daily service from London Heathrow to New York JFK on Dec. 1 and increase flights from London Heathrow to Sao Paulo in Brazil from seven to 10 each week on Dec. 3.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 10:58 PM   #269
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...er/5149958.stm
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Old July 9th, 2006, 06:16 PM   #270
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UK airlines plan air traffic control sale - paper

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - British Airways Plc , Virgin Atlantic Airways [VA.UL] and five other British airlines have put up for sale their controlling stake in National Air Traffic Services, the company that provides air traffic control in the UK, the Sunday Times reported.

Nats was privatised in 2001 with the Airlines Group -- a consortium of seven carriers -- only chosen as the buyer after promising its bid was "not for commercial return", the paper added.

The seven airlines put in 50 million pounds ($92 million) in 2001 and are likely to make up to six times that, according to unofficial estimates of Nats' value. Airline executives think it could be worth up to 600 million pounds, the paper said.

The Airlines Group comprising BA, Virgin, BMI British Midland [BMID.UL], EasyJet Plc , MyTravel Airways, Monarch and Thomsonfly owns a 46 percent stake in Nats, while the UK government retains 49 percent, and an employee trust holds 5 percent.

A BA spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. ($1=.5439 Pound)
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Old July 19th, 2006, 03:38 PM   #271
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BA sticks with 10 pct margin aim, sets union deal
By David Cullen

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - British Airways said on Tuesday it was keeping its goal for a 10 percent margin by 2008 and that it hoped a probe into suspected cartel activity by Europe's third-largest airline would be wrapped up soon.

The company also said in a statement that it had struck an agreement with trade unions representing 1,800 Gatwick-based cabin crew on changes to work practices that would save it around 13 million pounds ($24 million) a year.

BA said last month it was helping Britain's Office of Fair Trading and the U.S. Department of Justice with an investigation into alleged cartel activity over airfares and fuel charges.

Since then, two BA staff have been suspended, including commercial director and board member, Martin George.

American Airlines , United Airlines and Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic [VA.UL] have said they were also involved in the probe but were not direct targets.

"The recent investigations have focused on longhaul passenger fuel surcharges and follow an earlier investigation into cargo surcharges," BA Chairman Martin Broughton said in a statement, adding: "There is no suggestion of any breach of competition law in relation to shorthaul passenger fuel surcharges."

"Needless to say, we very much hope there will be a swift outcome to the investigation."

BA said it could not publicly comment further on the investigation for legal reasons.

MARGIN GOAL, DIVIDEND HOPE

The firm, which earlier this year announced a revamp of its UK regional business aimed at returning the unit to profit and fending off rival budget carriers, said it was sticking with its goal to get an operating margin of 10 percent within two years.

The business serves UK airports excluding London's Heathrow and Gatwick -- where it has just struck a deal with unions on working practices -- and flies within the UK and to some European destinations.

BA said the pact with the Transport and General Workers Union and Amicus brings together the two previously separate cabin crew operations for long and short-haul.

About 1,000 crew are employed on long-haul services from Gatwick and 800 on short-haul. From October, a single cabin crew force will operate all Gatwick flights.

BA said the deal would give staff more flexibility, raise productivity and cut employee costs.

The firm also said that while it was not recommending a dividend payout this year, it hoped they would be restored.

"The most likely trigger point will be an operating margin of 10 percent," BA Chairman Martin Broughton told shareholders, adding that he would not rule out reinstating a payout before that goal target ends in March 2008.

BA said passenger numbers rose 4 percent in the first three months of the financial year to the end of June against the same quarter in 2005, helped by more services to India.

BA shares were down 0.7 percent at 342-1/2 pence by 1236 GMT, valuing the business at around 3.9 billion pounds.

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones)
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Old July 26th, 2006, 06:44 AM   #272
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Baggage problems at London airport cause delays for thousands

LONDON, July 25, 2006 (AFP) - Thousands of people hoping to jet off for their holidays were hit by delays to their flights and had luggage problems after a baggage belt failure at a busy London airport Tuesday.

Low-cost airline Ryanair said 37 of its flights were delayed and 1,500 bags did not go to the right flight because of the breakdown at London Stansted Airport.

"We had a baggage belt problem today and Ryanair was particularly affected by this," said a Stansted spokeswoman.

"We apologise sincerely to passengers and our engineers are now on the site working out the cause of the problem."

The Irish carrier said it was the third consecutive day of baggage problems at Stansted, adding that airport operator British Airports Authority had said on Sunday that it was "satisfied" with the procedures that were in place.

"BAA may be 'satisfied' but tens of thousands of passengers today would disagree," said David O'Brien, Ryanair's operations director.

"Ryanair is fed up taking the blame for the inefficient gold-plated BAA facilities at Stansted which don't work and for which Ryanair and passengers pay ridiculously high prices."

Stansted is London's third busiest airport after Heathrow and Gatwick.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #273
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The Herald
August 4, 2006
Airline axes Glasgow to Chicago flight
Falling numbers and fuel costs blamed


AMERICAN Airlines is to axe its summer service between Glasgow and Chicago after 16 years of operating the route. The last flight to the mid-west city will leave Glasgow Airport on September 30.

The airline claimed the route to Chicago's O'Hare Airport had become increasingly unprofitable in comparison with its other international routes as passenger numbers out of Glasgow have steadily fallen over recent years.

The Herald understands that the recent significant increase in fuel prices also had an impact and also led to the airline changing its mind over starting a service between Newcastle and New York.

The decision to axe the route means there are now no airlines flying direct from Scotland to Chicago, a busy connection airport for other American and Canadian cities.

Despite the ending of the service, Glasgow Airport officials revealed they were in discussion with other major airlines interested in operating transatlantic flights out of Glasgow to other American cities.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said it could not name the airlines at this point because talks were at a delicate stage, but they were progressing well.

"We are disappointed at the loss of this summer service to Chicago, howeverwe are in discussion with other carriers interested in operating yearround from Glasgow to major US cities, " said the spokesman.

The decision by American Airlines to axe the Glasgow to Chicago service, which was popularwith golfers, appears to be part of a restructuring of operations in Great Britain and Ireland.

In general, seasonal services are difficult and costly to operate and Glasgow Airport executives are focusing their efforts on attracting sustainable yearround services which they believe will be more appealing to leisure and business travellers.

A spokeswoman for American Airlines said the company would continue to have a presence in Scotland, but felt the unprofitable nature of the Chicago seasonal service had left it no alternative.

"American Airlines will continue however to provide travel options between the US and Scotland in conjunction with our one world partner, British Airways, as it does now throughout the year, " said the spokeswoman.

She said there would be no redundancies because of the cancellation of the Glasgow flight as the staff involved were Manchester-based and moved up to Scotland for the summer season only.

Scotland is still well served with links to America, with Continental Airlines flying from Glasgow and Edinburgh to New York, and Delta Airlines flying from Edinburgh to Atlanta. US Airways flies from Glasgow to Philadelphia and Orlando. Mytravel operates to Las Vegas from Glasgow during June and July, while Icelandair flies from Glasgow to Orlando, Minneapolis, Boston, New York and Baltimore.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook Airlines has issued a "zero tolerance"warning after a spate of bad behaviour by sun-seeking Britons.

Staff have already had to deal with passengers turning up drunk for check-in, making jokes about bombs in luggage, refusing to sit for take-off and smoking in toilets.

In the most serious incident, a passenger opened the door of a Boeing 757 as it pulled up at the Greek island airport of Zakynthos. He has been banned for life by the airline.
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Old August 5th, 2006, 05:01 AM   #274
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British Airways says 1st-quarter profits rise 72 percent
By DAVID STRINGER
4 August 2006

LONDON (AP) - British Airways PLC said Friday that first-quarter net profits rose 72 percent as the carrier saw passenger traffic driven by low fares on short-haul routes and strong demand for lucrative business class flights.

But the company warned of tougher conditions in the second half, with fuel and pension costs expected to rise.

Shares in British Airways fell 3.4 percent to close at 375.61 pence (US$7.15; euro5.58) on the London Stock Exchange.

Net profit for the three months ending June 30 rose to 150 million pounds (US$282 million; euro221 million) from 87 million pounds a year earlier. Revenue rose 12.5 percent to 2.32 billion pounds (US$4.36 billion; euro3.41 billion) from 2.06 billion pounds.

Passenger traffic in July rose 4.4 percent, with premium traffic up 11 percent.

"These are good results driven by strong revenue as a result of record seat factors and better cabin mix," said Chief Executive Willie Walsh.

Walsh said low fares on short-haul flights had been "a big success," despite brutal competition.

But he said market conditions were likely to grow more difficult in the second half because of increasing price competition. He forecast that yields, or average fares, were likely to decline over the full year.

The company said it had seen a 44 percent rise in fuel costs to 512 million pounds (US$963 million; euro753 million) and noted that fuel costs for the full year were expected to be 600 million pounds (US$1.13 billion; euro882.9 million) more than last year, when the bill came to 1.63 billion pounds (US$3.06 billion; euro2.4 billion).

High fuel prices have led airlines to raise the surcharges that passengers pay on long-haul flights.

In June, BA confirmed that two senior executives had been placed on leave as British and U.S. authorities investigated alleged price-fixing in passenger fares and fuel surcharges by BA and other airlines.

Britain's Office of Fair Trading said it was conducting "both a criminal and civil investigation into alleged price coordination by airlines in relation to fuel surcharges." BA commercial director Martin George and head of communications Iain Burns were given leaves of absence.

The airline said it expects an increase in total revenue for the year to March 2007 of 6 percent to 7 percent, compared with previous guidance of 5 percent to 6 percent.

"Costs excluding fuel, which were previously forecast flat, are now expected to be slightly higher this year as pension costs are driving employee costs up," Chairman Martin Broughton said in a statement.
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Old August 5th, 2006, 04:01 PM   #275
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That's amazing! Good for BA to turn things around.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 02:09 AM   #276
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Transatlantic flight turns back to London over security alert

LONDON, Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) - British authorities questioned four people at London's Heathrow Airport Monday after a flight to Boston turned around midway across the Atlantic because of a security alert.

American Airlines flight 109 carried 240 passengers and 13 crew members on the Boeing 777 jet, which landed back in London four hours after it departed.

Four of the passengers were escorted from the plane when it landed in London, where six police officers were waiting for them, a Heathrow Airport spokeswoman told AFP.

Anneliese Morris of American Airlines said the turn-around was "due to a security issue that needed to be resolved in London," but declined to comment further.

A spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police told AFP four people were interviewed by police officers at the airport, but had not been arrested. She declined to give details on the four.

Britain's domestic Press Association said the four passengers questioned were believed to be a man who had been travelling with three women, believed to be his mother and two sisters.

The flight, which left London at 10:55 am (0955 GMT), had been due to arrive at Boston's Logan International Airport at 1:05 pm local time (1705 GMT).

American Airlines told AFP it had re-booked passengers onto alternative flights to Boston.

According to the US Transportation Safety Administration, one of the passengers' names was on a so-called no-fly list, of persons not allowed to board airliners.

"Early in the flight, TSA learned that a passenger on board was a positive match on the no-fly list. Out of an abundance of caution, TSA determined that the best course of action was to turn the flight around and at around 8:20 EST we instructed American Airlines Flight 109 to land," said Ann Davis, TSA spokeswoman.

"This is the eighth international diversion due to a no-fly list match since the fall of 2004," Davis said. Air transportation was greatly bolstered after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

"It's important to note that American Airlines was in regular communications with the flight as it returned to Heathrow and there were no reports of any unusual activity on board.

"US law enforcement is working with local law enforcement in the UK to interview the passenger on the ground," she said.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 08:38 PM   #277
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British air traffic hits record 15 million in July

LONDON, Aug 8, 2006 (AFP) - British airports operator BAA said on Tuesday that passenger numbers jumped 3.1 percent in July to a record 15 million compared with the same period a year earlier.

BAA handled 146.5 million passengers in the 12 months to the end of July, a 2.5-percent rise on the previous annual period.

"BAA's UK airports handled 15 million passengers in July, the most passengers to pass through their airports in a single month," the operator said in an official statement.

BAA, which runs seven British airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted bordering London, was bought recently by a consortium led by Spanish construction group Ferrovial for 10.23 billion pounds (14.8 billion euros, 18.8 billion dollars).

On Tuesday, BAA said that traffic at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, rose 1.2 percent to 6.5 million passengers in July compared with the same month in 2005. On a 12-month basis, passenger numbers edged up 0.3 percent to 67.9 million.

Taking into account all of BAA's British airports, European scheduled traffic rose 7.4 percent in July from a year earlier. North Atlantic activity grew 0.2 percent and other long-haul routes increased by 8.4 percent.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 03:11 AM   #278
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Virgin tries text cure for in-flight boredom

LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - First there were the movies, masseurs and meditation programmes, but Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways [VA.UL] says it has found a new answer to beating the boredom on long flights.

The London-based airline said on Tuesday it planned to introduce the world's first in-flight texting service, which will allow passengers to have questions answered on any topic at 35,000 feet.

Passengers will be able to text questions from their seat-back television screens to an existing land-based text answer service which promises to answer any question within minutes.

"It's a great way to ask for a recommended bar in New York, what's the best way to get over jet-lag, or what's the best way to chat up the cabin crew," a Virgin spokeswoman said.

Airlines globally are scrambling to find new ways of increasing non-ticket sales and getting more passengers onto planes with the promise of more luxurious and fun ways to pass the time in the air.

However, texting mates from your own mobile phone is still some way off. Air France KLM is running a trial of technology that will enable passengers to use their mobile phones while flying from next year.

Low-cost carriers like Ryanair plan to introduce in-flight gambling to earn extra passenger dollars and hopes the use of mobile phones on planes will eventually boost its coffers.

(Additional reporting by Benoît Van Overstraeten in Paris)
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Old August 10th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #279
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'Plot to blow up planes' foiled | UK on 'Critical Aleart'




A terrorist plot to blow up planes in mid-flight from the UK to the US has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said.

It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled on aircraft in hand luggage.

Police have arrested about 18 people in the London area after an anti-terrorist operation lasting several months.

Security at all airports in the UK has been tightened and delays are expected. MI5 has raised the UK threat level to critical - the highest possible.


In full: Transport advice

According to MI5's website, critical threat level means "an attack is expected imminently and indicates an extremely high level of threat to the UK".

Scotland Yard said in a statement that their investigation into the alleged plot was a "major operation" which would be "lengthy and complex".

"We would like to reassure the public that this operation was carried out with public safety uppermost in our minds."

Home Secretary John Reid confirmed that there had been a plot "to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions".

Transparent bags

The Department for Transport set out the details of the security measures at UK airports.

Passengers will not be allowed to take any hand luggage on to any flights in the UK, the department said.

Only the barest essentials - including passports and wallets - will be allowed to be carried on board in transparent plastic bags.

"We hope that these measures, which are being kept under review by the government, will need to be in place for a limited period only," the statement said.

BBC journalist Joe Lynam encountered the increased security measures at Gatwick airport.

"I was handed a piece of paper saying that pretty much nothing could be taken on board the plane," he said.

"Everything had to be checked in and that includes mobile phones, ipods, wallets - even spectacle cases had to be checked in."

David Learmount from Flight International Magazine said he expected passengers to be searched much more carefully.

He added: "This is the first time this measure has actually been taken. Certainly I've never seen hand luggage banned."
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Old August 10th, 2006, 11:11 AM   #280
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Wow that sucks. I'm supposed to fly to Birmingham on Saturday. Hopefully my flight there isn't going to be disrupted.
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