WASHINGTON – New intelligence indicates that British Airways (search) flights from London to Washington and Air France (search) flights from Paris to an unspecified U.S. city could be terrorist targets, U.S. officials said Friday.
Some of the flights are the same as those that drew increased attention when the nation's terror alert was raised to orange, or high, just before Christmas. Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity stressed there is no specific information about what might be planned, only that those flights are possible targets.
There are no plans to raise the terror alert because of the latest threats, Homeland Security Department (search) spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.
"We remain concerned about Al Qaeda's (search) desire to target aviation, especially international aviation," he said. "The U.S. intelligence community continues to gather specific credible threat information on international flights, as we have done in an ongoing basis in the past few weeks. We have shared this information with our international partners, and will work with them to put in place the appropriate security measures."
Over the holidays, security was tightened considerably around the flights that concerned officials. Passenger airline cargo was inspected, for example, and law enforcement's presence was increased around airports.
No flights have been delayed or canceled due to the new threats, officials said. However, a senior law enforcement official said U.S. officials are talking to British and French authorities and no decisions have been made about delaying or canceling future flights.
Another senior law enforcement official said the intelligence being gathered is similar to what U.S. authorities were hearing during the heightened terror alert. That prompted U.S. officials to ask for the cancellation of two British Airways flights from London to Washington and six Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles.
A number of other flights were delayed for hours so passengers could be checked against watch lists.
One of those flights, British Airways Flight 223 from London to Washington, is the subject of renewed concern by intelligence officials. At first, an official said the intelligence concerned Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles. But the official later said it was an unspecified U.S. city.
U.S. officials say they believe the process for checking the backgrounds of airline passengers and crews has been improved so that those long delays probably won't be repeated.
An Air France spokeswomen in New York, Diane Cornman, said there was good cooperation among the airline and U.S. and French government officials. "We have been complying with all security measures," she said.
A telephone call seeking comment to British Airways wasn't immediately returned.