Airline pilots angry over 'needless' cancellations

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British pilots will meet their American counterparts today to express their frustration at the continued cancellation of Washington-bound flights over fears of a possible terrorist attack.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) believes that the cancellations, which followed warnings by the United States, may be unnecessary and based on flawed intelligence. The pilots fear the warnings about US-bound flights and flights to Saudi Arabia are damaging the airline and travel industries by unnecessarily frightening passengers.

British Airways yesterday cancelled its BA263 flight which would have normally left Heathrow for the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh at 1.35pm. BA223, one of three flights from London to Washington DC that BA operates daily, was also cancelled on Sunday. It was the fifth time this year that the London-Washington service had been called off. Passengers on the route have also had long delays on other days.

More than a dozen BA, Aeromexico and Air France flights to the US have been cancelled or delayed since New Year's Eve. The decision to cancel has been based primarily on intelligence the Americans have picked up while eavesdropping on terror suspects.