Flights hit as terror plot foiled

HOLIDAY makers and businessmen flying today from Britain's airports have had their travel plans severely disrupted following the announcement that a terrorist plot to blow up several transatlantic flights has been foiled.

By Graham Dines

HOLIDAY makers and businessmen flying today from Britain's airports have had their travel plans severely disrupted following the announcement that a terrorist plot to blow up several transatlantic flights has been foiled.

Flights in and out of UK airports were cancelled or severely delayed as stringent security measures were out in place on the orders of the Department for Transport.

No incoming flights have been allowed to land in the UK from European destinations.


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Those passengers whose flights did take off early this morning were ordered to put all hand luggage in the aircraft hold, with the exception of travel documents and essential medication. Car and house keys, mobile phones and laptop computers were all banished from cabin space.

The measures followed the announcement by Home Secretary Dr John Reid that police and security services had foiled a major plot to commit - in the words of Scotland Yard - “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” by destroying up to ten passenger jets in mid-air.

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The targets were flights leaving UK airports to the United States, although it is believed that the outrages were not planned for today.

Anti-terror police arrested 21 people in London, the Thames Valley and Birmingham overnight as stringent new security measures were imposed on all UK airports.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said the plot was designed to cause “untold death and destruction. This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.”

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, which handles scores of transatlantic flights a day as well domestic, European, and other international departures, bore the brunt of disruption after flights were suspended.

Armed police stood on guard at toilets and uniformed officers maintained a very visible presence throughout the airport.

British Airways forecast “major disruption” to its Heathrow operations and was continuing to advise all customers who do not need to travel today to or from Heathrow to “stay at home.” The airline said it was likely that there may be a number of long-haul cancellations from Heathrow during the day. T

BA said its flights at Gatwick and flights operated by the airline's regional subsidiary BA Connect, were continuing to operate, but with delays.

Ryanair said all its flights between 9.30am and 12.30pm out of Stansted airport in Essex had been cancelled. Passengers due to fly today from Stansted and Luton were encouraged to return and contact their airlines to make alternative arrangements

Many passengers whose flights have been cancelled encountered another problem - having checked-in all their possessions save their wallets and travel documents many could not leave without first retrieving car keys, house keys, mobile telephones and other valuables.

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