News: American icon to reopen

Summer visitors to New York City are still uncertain as to whether they will be able to visit the Statue of Liberty.

Summer visitors to New York City are still uncertain as to whether they will be able to visit the Statue of Liberty. The 152ft-high structure has been closed since 11 September 2001; it was shut down after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. Since then, a $30m (£18m) restoration programme has been underway.

The monument on Liberty Island, created by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, is due to reopen some time this summer. But the National Park Service, which manages the island, will say only that it hopes the opening date will be between late July and mid-August.

"It is on target, but not enough has been done yet to be certain as to when the work will be finished," says Brian Feeney of the National Park Service. Once it reopens, security will be tight and access will be restricted. "We are not reopening the statue to visitors," says Mr Feeney.

The traditional climb up internal stairs to the crown will be out of bounds. Visitors will be allowed only inside the pedestal, in which the museum is located. The highlight of the museum is the original torch, which was removed and replaced by a replica in the 1980s.

Visitors can already visit Liberty Island, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1983. Free tours of the grounds of the statue are led by park rangers. Until 2001, the statue was a popular last call for holidaymakers before returning home. But anyone planning to stop off is warned that bulky items of baggage are not permitted on the island, and no ferry terminal has a left luggage facility.

Entitled Liberty Enlightening the World, the statue is made of copper-sheet riveted to the hollow frame produced by the engineer Gustave Eiffel. It was first closed because of a perceived security threat in 1916, when German saboteurs blew up an arms depot near the New Jersey shore, just west of the statue. The blast caused severe damage to one of Liberty's arms.

National Park Service: 001 212 363 3200; www.nps.gov/stli

Ferry services: 001 212 269 5755; www.statueoflibertyferry.com

Brighton gets a brand new airport

Gatwick and Southampton airports have a new rival: Brighton City, previously known as Shoreham Aerodrome.

The airport, midway between Brighton and Worthing, had a link from Heathrow until the 1980s. Since then it has been solely used for private aircraft. But scheduled services to the Channel Island of Alderney have begun, operated by Rockhopper (01481 824567; www.rockhopper.aero). The lowest return fare is £109.

From next Friday, 25 June, the network is set to expand significantly. An airline called European Executive (01273 465566; www.euroexec.com) is due to start flights to four destinations: Guernsey, Jersey, Le Touquet and Rouen. All will be flown using a nine-seater Piper Chieftain Commuter. The Channel Islands flights will cost £59 each way, while Rouen is £49 and Le Touquet £39.

Some controversy has been caused by the decision to rebrand the historic airfield at Shoreham-by-Sea as "Brighton City". David Chowen, the managing director of European Executive, says: "I love Shoreham, but our friends in France and the Channel Islands haven't heard of it."

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