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US Airports Remain Closed, Security to be Revamped - 2001-09-13

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta says all flights diverted after Tuesday's terrorist attacks will be allowed to finish their journeys, but all other planes will remain grounded for the time being.

Secretary Mineta says steps are being taken to get the whole U.S. air system back in business again, but not before at least some new safety procedures are in place.

"I know all Americans want us to move as quickly and prudently as possible to return our transportation system to normal, and we will, as soon as we can do so safely," the secretary said.

Among the more immediate measures to be implemented at airports nationwide will be a ban on passengers carrying knives or other cutting instruments onto planes. There will also be thorough searches of all planes before they depart. Curbside check-ins are being banned.

Other measures that may take longer to implement include uniformed police on patrol at airports and armed marshals aboard flights. In addition, there will be searches of all flight crews, maintenance and service personnel before they are allowed on, or near, any aircraft.

A report issued by the U.S. Congress' General Accounting Office in January criticized lack of security at U.S. airports. A study done last year showed that airport security systems routinely missed guns and other weapons put into pieces of luggage by federal officials in a test of airport security. One of the most severely criticized airports was Boston's Logan airport, where two of the hijacked flights originated Tuesday. Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift has announced that her state will go beyond the new federal requirements, and ban unauthorized vehicles from coming near terminal buildings.

On Tuesday, the Transportation Department closed down all U.S. airports for the first time in the nation's history.