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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Frightened travellers 'turn to El Al'
El Al plane
El Al is renowned for its stringent security
Israel's national airline El Al says an increased fear of flying brought about by the terror attacks in America has led to a surge in demand for its flights.

According to reports, the carrier, famed for its rigorous levels of security, has seen a rise in the number of passengers wanting to fly El Al to the United States.

We want to be in a position to provide extra passengers and cargo flights

El Al spokesman
Company spokesman Nahman Kleinman said he expected El Al flights to other parts of the world to show a similar increase.

El Al suffered a major loss in business as tourism to Israel sharply dropped after the Palestinian uprising erupted last September, but the spokesman said renewed demand could offset expected losses of $120m this year.

The turnaround comes at a time when the world's airlines are experiencing a major downturn as a result of the US hijackings.

American Airlines and United Airlines are to cut 40,000 jobs, while British Airways is to shed 7,000 positions because of the effect the attacks have had on consumer confidence.

Lay-offs delayed

El Al, meanwhile, is to shelve plans to make hundreds of redundancies and phase out six Boeing 747-200 jets, Reuters news agency reports.

The attacks in America have knocked confidence in air travel
"Following the surge in demand we have seen since the attacks last week, the key word for us is flexibility. We want to be in a position to provide extra passengers and cargo flights if there is an emergency," said Mr Kleinman.

El Al has a reputation for some of the strictest security measures in the world, implemented after a spate of aircraft hijackings in the 1960s.

Passengers are required to check in three hours before their flight and are subjected to rigorous questioning.

All El Al flights carry armed air marshals and cockpits are sealed to protect against attempted intrusions.

The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The people of Pakistan are very worried"
Hamid Mir, has interviewed Osama Bin Laden
"It will be very difficult for Mullah Omar to ask Osama Bin Laden to leave"
See also:

20 Sep 01 | Business
British Airways cuts 7,000 jobs
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Profile: Mullah Mohammed Omar
19 Sep 01 | Media reports
Text: Musharraf rallies Pakistan
17 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghanistan - a tough military option
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghan exodus gathers pace
20 Sep 01 | South Asia
The language of conflict
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
On edge: Afghanistan's neighbours
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
Kabul checkpoints stem refugee exodus
20 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Afghan ruling on Bin Laden
30 Dec 99 | South Asia
History of hijacking
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