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Protesters delay Yemenia flight

PROTESTERS upset at conditions on Yemenia airlines protested at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport yesterday, delaying the departure of a flight to Comoros, four days after the deadly crash of Yemenia Flight 626 off the island nation in the Indian Ocean.

The Comoran community in France has been long complaining about the dangerous conditions on Yemenia's flights, and many are angry that it took Tuesday's accident, which killed 152 people, to focus attention on the problem.

France's Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said Yemenia would have to work hard to win back the confidence of the Comoran community -- and to avoid being included on a European Union blacklist of banned airlines.

"If they don't want to go on the blacklist, if they want to get back the confidence of the Comorans and of all passengers, they have big efforts, very big efforts, to make," Bussereau said.

He added that the EU's blacklist would be made available to travelers on the French aviation authority's Website this month.

An airport official said that some 50 protesters gathered at Charles de Gaulle had succeeded in delaying Yemenia's flight yesterday, which was supposed to leave at 9am. The flight had still not taken off by early afternoon.

On Thursday, hundreds of shouting demonstrators staged a similar protest at Marseille's airport, trying to block passengers from boarding a Yemenia airlines flight to the Comoran capital of Moroni.

The airline on Thursday said it was suspending its flights from the Mediterranean port city to Moroni for an indefinite period because of the danger to passengers and airline personnel. It said it would reimburse tickets for canceled flights.

Meanwhile, off the coast of the Comoros islands yesterday, ships continued to search for survivors, bodies and wreckage from Yemenia Flight 626, which went down amid heavy winds. Bahia Bakari, a 14-year-old girl, was the only survivor.


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