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U.S. airspace remains closed, but some diverted airliners will be allowed to complete tripsU.S. airspace remains closed, but some diverted airliners will be allowed to complete trips

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced that the FAA will allow a limited reopening of the nation's airspace system in order to allow commercial airline flights that were diverted yesterday to continue to their original destinations.

The secretary also announced that the FAA is temporarily extending the ground stop order imposed yesterday while additional security measures are being completed.

There is no word yet on when general aviation flights might resume.

Mineta said the FAA would permit flights today only in special limited circumstances. Flights diverted as a result of yesterday's order will be allowed to continue to their original destination under vastly tightened security guidelines. Only passengers on the original flights will be allowed to re-board, and only after airports and airlines have implemented strict screening measures. Airlines will also be allowed to reposition empty aircraft, he said.

Mineta said a variety of stepped-up security measures will be instituted at air carrier airports once they reopen. But DOT said nothing about general aviation airports that do not have scheduled airline flights.

According to Secretary Mineta, increased security measures at air carrier airports will include:

  • Thorough search and security check of all airplanes and airports before passengers are allowed to enter and board aircraft.
  • No curbside check-in at the airport.
  • No off-airport check in.
  • Boarding areas reserved for passengers only.
  • Vehicles near airport terminals will be monitored more closely.

"I know all Americans want us to move as quickly and prudently as possible to return our transportation system to normal," Mineta said, "and we will as soon as we can do so safely."

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