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Passenger flights from Yemen to Germany to resume after terror scare

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Passenger flights from Yemen to Germany will resume, weeks after a terror scare
  • Germany had banned all incoming flights from Yemen on November 1
  • In late October, authorities found two explosive packages from Yemen on cargo planes

(CNN) -- Passenger flights are set to resume between Germany and Yemen, according the Middle Eastern nation's state-run media, weeks after a shutdown prompted by a terror scare involving packages in cargo planes.

Germany had banned all incoming flights from Yemen on November 1, air traffic control officials said. That followed similar initiatives by several other countries after international authorities said they had uncovered two package bombs in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates on air cargo shipments from Yemen destined for synagogues in the United States.

According to Yemen's official news agency SABA, Germany's ambassador to Yemen, Michael Klor-Berch, told the Yemeni transportation minister that passenger planes could now land at German airports and fly in the European nation's airspace. Flights from Yemen Airways, for instance, can now resume.

The report made no mention of cargo flights.

German experts visited Yemen recently to examine security safeguards at Sanaa International Airport and affirm they were up to international standards, SABA reported.

The explosive device that arrived in England on a cargo plane probably would have exploded over the east coast of the United States had it not been discovered, Scotland Yard said in a statement Wednesday.

The device -- which contained the powerful explosive PETN, packed in computer printer toner cartridges and designed to detonate by cell phone -- was primed to explode about six hours before it was found, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN. A similar contraption was found on the ground in the United Arab Emirates.

On November 2, air traffic to-and-from Yemen was a hot topic at an international aviation security conference in Frankfurt, Germany. Top transportation officials from the United States and European nations were among the attendees.

"The events in Yemen have put cargo security at the top of our agenda," said Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association.

Several other nations, though, continue to have restrictions in place on air traffic originating from Yemen.

In the United Kingdom, all passenger and cargo flights, as well as all flights holding unaccompanied freight from Yemen and Somalia, were banned for a month.

Similarly, the United States on Monday, through the Department of Homeland Security, said it would extend indefinitely the ban on air cargo from Yemen as well as restrict cargo from Somalia.

U.S. officials also said they would bar airline passengers from traveling with large printer cartridges, ban "high-risk" cargo from passenger planes and ask cargo airlines for earlier access to their manifests.

At the aviation security conference earlier this month in Frankfurt, a senior Yemeni official said that such restrictions amounted to "collective punishment" that isolated Yemen and benefited al Qaeda.

"Although Germany, Doha, Dubai and England admitted on the record that the packages went through inspections and X-ray machines in those countries and that they didn't detect the explosives, and yet Yemen is being blamed for

failing to detect it?" the official said. "If all of those countries couldn't find this, why has there been such a strong response toward Yemen?"