GULF AIR and Southern Aviation (Zambia) may be blocked from operating flights into Britain over the new year unless they introduce measures to address the millennium bug.

The airlines have failed to confirm their flights are free from any Y2K safety risks and have "therefore been advised that, unless such confirmation is received, their permits to operate to the UK over the millennium period will be suspended," said Keith Hill, the minister for London.

The airlines have until 16 December to reassure air traffic control authorities. Otherwise the airlines will be banned from entering British air space for 24 hours starting from 6pm on 31 December.

Meanwhile, a huge, animated "light sculpture" set around a towering column, which is planned as the centrepiece of Berlin's millennium celebrations, has been criticised by officials. They say it is reminiscent of the spectacles put on at Nazi rallies in the 1930s.

They say the millennium "Cathedral of Light" even shares the same name as the spectacle designed by Hitler's state architect, Albert Speer, at the Nuremberg rallies.

The company responsible for the light show said: "Light has nothing to do with politics."