Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal aviation officials said they would allow air travel in the United States to resume Thursday morning, but cautioned travelers to expect slower operations and tight security.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said commercial and private planes would be allowed to fly effective 11 a.m. EDT. He urged passengers to check with airlines on flight schedules and available service, and allow ample time to deal with new security procedures.
"There will be some inconveniences, but safety will be the first element of our system to be restored," Mineta said.
The secretary's statement was released by the White House.
Mineta made his decision after a series of meetings Wednesday with White House aides, Cabinet officials, the Federal Aviation Administration, industry and law enforcement. He called the decision "good news for travelers, for the airlines and for our economy."
Mineta said airports and flights would be resumed on a case-by-case basis, and only after stringent security measures are in place. "This phased approach will assure the highest level of security, which remains our primary goal," he said.
Most of the nation's air fleet remained on the ground following horrific hijackings of four passenger jets by terrorists who then flew them directly into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington and into the Pennsylvania countryside. Thousands of people are presumed dead.
Lawmakers criticized airline security as the FAA imposed new restrictions on passengers, airlines and airports.