Qantas Probe Focuses on Glitch

SYDNEY ~ Australian aviation officials said a computer glitch made a Qantas jet dive in mid-air and they were investigating if it was due to a military transmitter or passengers’ electronic devices.

The Airbus A330 from Singapore to Perth was cruising at 37,000 feet west of the Australian town of Learmonth on October 7 when it twice abruptly plunged.

It left 13 passengers and a flight attendant with serious injuries and many of the other 313 onboard with more minor ailments from being flung around the cabin.

US Opens Air Lanes

WASHINGTON ~ US President George W. Bush opened military air lanes to commercial air traffic on Tuesday, ahead of the next week’s busy holiday season and announced new consumer protections for air travelers.

“This year we are going to expand what we call the Thanksgiving express lanes in the areas of the Midwest, the Southwest and the West Coast, including the skies over Phoenix and Los Angeles,” he said.

Noting that congested holiday travel can be especially difficult, Bush said officials were working with agencies and airlines “to make more staff available to speed check-in and boarding, and to help passengers affected by cancellations and delays.”

Blundering Borat ‘Boosted Tourism’

LONDON ~ Borat, the spoof blundering reporter from Kazakhstan, actually boosted tourism in the central Asian country, a Kazakh tourism minister said.

Kenzhebay Satzhanov, deputy chairman in Kazakhstan’s tourism and sports ministry, said that British comic Sacha Baron Cohen’s character had helped put the country on the map.

“It was free-of-charge advertising and lots of people want to come and see our country,” he said at the annual World Travel Market tourism industry fair.

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