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European Airlines Struggle to Restore US Service - 2001-09-15


European airlines are struggling to restore their links to the United States after the terror attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. Transatlantic air travel is slowly resuming amid tight security, enabling hundreds of thousands of stranded travelers on both sides of the ocean to finally head home.

European airlines announced their first westward flights Friday, a few hours after U.S. airlines resumed flying transatlantic routes. An Air France flight from Paris to Atlanta was one of the first to get into the air, and two British Airways flights from London to New York and one from London to Philadelphia quickly followed.

More flights are heading from European airports to the United States on Saturday.

Lufthansa, the German airline, says it is resuming limited service, with 21 out of 25 scheduled flights taking off from Germany for such destinations as Atlanta, Dallas, and Newark. A Lufthansa spokeswoman says most such flights will be delayed because of heavy security at German airports. The airline canceled at least 80 round-trip transatlantic flights following Tuesday's terrorist attacks. It says those cancellations affected at least 50,000 people.

Sabena, the Belgian airline, says it is resuming some of its flights from Brussels to North America starting on Saturday. It says it will operate two scheduled flights to New York and one each to Boston and Montreal. But it says flights to Chicago, Dallas, and Washington remain canceled.

In Zurich, Swissair says it is resuming normal service to U.S. destinations on Saturday. Swissair says it has been waiting for U.S. government approval for the flights to resume. It says that permission has now been given. But Swissair, like other European airlines, says passengers should expect longer check-ins and delays in take-off times because of stepped-up security and thorough searches of both check-in and carry-on baggage.

Alitalia, the Italian airline, says it has scheduled two flights to New York on Saturday. The national carriers of Poland and Portugal have also announced a limited resumption of their U.S.-bound services.

The rescheduling of European transatlantic air services follows a decision Friday by European Union transportation ministers to ask the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization to implement tighter security on flights worldwide.