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World airlines eye Japan radiation situation

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Global airlines are keeping a close eye on the radiation levels around Tokyo following explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The power plant was damaged during last Friday's Japanese 8.9 magnitude earthquake and has been rocked by several blasts since then.

At the weekend, German carrier Lufthansa began running checks on aircraft returning from Japan to ascertain the level of radiation on them. Lufthansa has already diverted flights scheduled to land in Tokyo and reduced passenger capacity.

The airline announced yesterday that Frankfurt flights bound for the Japanese capital would now turn round in Nagoya and services from Munich would be diverted to Osaka, until Sunday at least.

A spokesman for the airline, Thomas Jachnow, made the announcement but said that Tokyo's Narita Airport was undergoing problems and that the alternate airports would enable Lufthansa to operate a more stable flight schedule. He added that smaller A340-600 craft would be used for the Frankfurt services, which was a reflection of the drop in passenger demand.

Other European airlines, which include UK carrier British Airways, Air France and Alitalia, have all announced that they are monitoring radiation levels in Japan and that there was no need to amend flight schedules at present. Airline representatives say that the situation could change overnight and travellers should confirm flight status before leaving for the airport.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, Laura Brown, said that Japan's civil air authorities had imposed flight restrictions around Fukushima and, at the moment, there was no evidence that any other actions needed to be taken.