LaGuardia Airport was evacuated briefly Thursday morning after a suspicious package was found in the American Airlines terminal, delaying a resumption of air service for the first time since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports were set to reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday, two days after the Federal Aviation Administration closed the nation's airports and airspace following the destruction of the Twin Towers by two domestic airliners hijacked by terrorists.
Before Thursday's bomb scare at about 10:30 a.m., some passengers had begun to trickle into LaGuardia for flights out of the area, but one of the nation's busiest airports remained unnaturally quiet for much of the day.
While travelers at the airport said the evacuation was only about 15 minutes long, many flights were canceled and people who arrived at the airport around noon were turned away by LaGuardia personnel at the curb.
But at least one plane had departed from LaGuardia by the late afternoon.
By 6 p.m. both LaGuardia and JFK had been shut down, CNN reported.
The New York Post reported four people masquerading as pilots were arrested Thursday afternoon at JFK.
John F. Kennedy International Airport had opened to travelers at 11 a.m., but no flights had taken off by mid-day.
Security was tight at Terminal 4, the international arrivals and departures terminal, where only Port Authority personnel were permitted in the building.
Ticketed passengers waited outside for word of their flights. More than 100 travelers hoping to get to Israel lined up outside the terminal and gave their names to a representative of El AL, the national airline of Israel.
Davidhaim Perez, an Israeli who came to New York on business two weeks ago, said he doubted he would be able to get a flight to Tel Aviv Thursday.
Perez said he was haunted by what he saw Tuesday from Canal Street, near the site of the terrorist attack at the Twin Towers.
Although people in Israel deal with terrorism attacks often, it is impossible to understand them or get used to them, he said.
"It is difficult to think about it," Perez said.
Most travelers said they felt fine about flying, even after four U.S. planes were hijacked Tuesday as part of a terrorist campaign to attack the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
International tour guide Jeanne Wisner was headed to China Thursday to lead a group of tourists. Although she was not nervous about flying, she said she was glad security was improving at the airport.
"I've marveled at the weak security in the past," Wisner said. "I'm glad they are going to (beef) it up. It will make flying more difficult, but that would be OK, because it will be safer."
©2001 Community News Group
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