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Security Concerns Prompt  British Airways, Air France to Cancel 9 US-Europe Flights - 2004-01-31


New security concerns have prompted Air France and British Airways to cancel nine flights to and from the United States on Sunday and Monday.

Air France officials Saturday canceled two flights from Paris to Washington and two flights from Washington to Paris scheduled for Sunday and Monday. The British airline canceled four Sunday and Monday flights between Washington and London.

That means Air France flight 026 from Paris to Washington's Dulles airport and the reverse Flight 027 from Dulles to Paris will not fly Sunday or Monday. The same applies for British Airways Flight 223 from London's Heathrow airport to Dulles and the reverse Flight 222. Flight 207 from Heathrow to Miami also will be grounded Sunday.

In addition, British Airways has 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 between Europe and 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.