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US ATA seeks to dampen travel fears

Officials at the United States Air Transport Association (ATA) have moved to dampen fears over travel to Europe following the release of a travel alert.

The body – which represents the interests of major airlines in the US – said it was “business as usual” for carriers operating transatlantic services, despite the issuance of the alert by the State Department.

On Sunday the US State Department advised the hundreds of thousands of American citizens living or travelling in Europe of “the potential for terrorist attacks”.

Americans were urged to take more precautions about their personal security.

The alert was less urgent than an official travel warning, which would have advised against visits to Europe.

US airlines said there was no immediate surge in cancellations following the statement from the State Department.


Travel Warnings

An ATA department official emphasised it is “absolutely not” telling Americans to avoid travelling across the Atlantic.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, under secretary of state for management Patrick Kennedy said the alert was based on the “cumulative effect” of intelligence in recent weeks.

Reports suggesting the possibility of an al-Qaida-affiliated attack on a major European city have been gaining currency in recent days.

Japan’s foreign ministry issued a similar warning, cautioning its citizens to be vigilant when using public transportation in Europe.

The UK government also cautioned citizens travelling to France or Germany about a heightened threat.

US citizens travelling to Europe have been encouraged to register with US embassies or consulates “so that if you need help, we might be able to find you,” Mr Kennedy concluded.