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British Airways Resumes  Flight 223 to Washington - 2004-01-03

After two days of cancellations due to security concerns, a British Airways mid-day flight from London to Washington D.C. has returned to the skies.

British Airways (BA) flight 223 from London's Heathrow Airport to Washington's Dulles International finally resumed service Saturday after two days of cancellations.

Those flights were grounded due to undisclosed threats. But Britain's Transportation Department earlier on Saturday advised BA that it now would be safe to resume flights.

Passengers catching other planes at London's busy Heathrow Airport were also well aware of the significance of flight 223 and most took the view that it is better to be safe than sorry.

"I would much rather be delayed than have a problem mid-air," said a man, while a woman expressed a different opinion. "I have got to get somewhere so, I am going," she said. "I do not like to think about it. I put it in the back of my mind and get on the plane and go."

But it was not that simple in the case of flight 223. Its departure was delayed some 3.5 hours as security personnel intensely scrutinized passengers and their luggage.

Individual checks were made at the final departure gate and names were checked against intelligence lists. Only then was the 747 cleared for take off.

Although this security episode may be over, Britain's Transportation Secretary Alistair Darling says cancellations will again likely be made when specific information warrants such a move.

"It may be necessary to cancel a particular flight. But our objective is to enable people to continue to fly for business or pleasure," he said.

While this particular flight is back on scheduled service, in a separate move, British Airways canceled its flight to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Saturday due to unspecified threats.