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British Airways, Air France Cancel 7 US-Europe Flights on Security Fears - 2004-01-31

New security concerns have prompted Air France and British Airways to cancel seven flights to and from the United States.

Air France officials Saturday canceled two flights from Paris to Washington scheduled for Sunday and Monday. The action came only hours after British Airways announced the cancellation of flights to Washington and Miami.

The British airline then followed the cancellation of the French flights with two more of its own -- Sunday and Monday flights from Washington to London.

That means Flight 223 from London's Heathrow airport to Washington's Dulles airport and the reverse Flight 222 will not fly Sunday or Monday. Flight 207 from Heathrow to Miami also will be grounded Sunday.

British Airways has also canceled at least one upcoming flight to the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

A U.S. Homeland Security official said Saturday that U.S. intelligence indicates al-Qaida may be targeting flights from Europe to the United States. The intelligence is said to be similar to information that prompted a wave of flight cancellations and delays during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

The British Airways flights are the same ones canceled or delayed in early January. Air France canceled six flights between Paris and Los Angeles during Christmas week.

Also Saturday, officials for Virgin Atlantic Airlines reported that a flight from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's Kennedy Airport was forced to turn back after the captain detected a burning smell in the cabin.

The plane carrying 181 passengers landed safely back in London.

An airline spokesman said the decision to return was a safety precaution, and was not related to security concerns.