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Europe considers armed guards

El Al jet
El Al's extra protection for its pilots may be copied by European airlines  

LONDON, England -- Armed guards on board planes and isolated cockpits to protect pilots are being considered by European nations in the wake of the U.S. terror strikes.

"These are measures which we will need to look at," British Transport Secretary Stephen Byers said after a meeting of EU transport ministers on Friday night.

Israeli airline El Al had cockpits which could be isolated from the rest of the aircraft and security personnel on board, Byers told BBC radio.

"This is a measure I think we will need to consider in the light of what happened. This is a new form of terrorism and we need to respond to it in the appropriate way.

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"What we need to do is to respond to the things we saw on Tuesday. We need to mourn the dead, we have to protect the living and we have to make sure our normal way of life is protected."

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Byers said the prospect of a suicidal terrorist, prepared to kill himself and all passengers, was a threat "our existing security measures had not taken into account."

He added: "They all need to be reviewed in the light of what happened earlier in the week."

More planes flew from Europe to the U.S. on Saturday as flights began to return to normal after Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

As the first aircraft flew out to New York this morning, the major airlines announced that nearly all flights would resume today.

But hundreds of people remained stranded at airports as they waited for a chance to fly out to find missing friends and relatives.

British Airways said 20 flights were running today out of a normal schedule of 36.

Other BA flights were leaving for Washington, Boston, Newark, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Tampa and Phoenix.

New Yorker and Vietnam veteran Harry Caniff, 53, who had been due to return home to the States on Wednesday, and he was anxious to get back to his home city.

"I'm relieved to be going back. I'm a civil servant and I just want to get down there and help out," he told the Associated Press before boarding British Airways Flight 117, which took off from London's Heathrow Airport just before 9.30 am (0830 GMT).

"My heart was ripped out by what has happened."

Virgin Atlantic said they planned to operate an almost full schedule out of their 17 daily return flights from Britain.

The airlines said said priority would be given to passengers with compassionate reasons to travel.

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