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Utah grounds low-flying Santa

No Xmas cheer for Salt Lake City

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Xmas 2004 looks like being a grim affair for Salt Lake City's kids after the city's airport board decided to revoke an exemption which allows Santa Claus to fly below 2,000 feet over the city on Christmas Eve, Reuters reports.

Until now, the rotund aviator was allowed to make low-level prezzie-delivery passes over Salt Lake City, while light aircraft were expected to maintain a more respectable altitude. However, the proposed new aviation code would remove this right - a move described as "modern and professional" by department of airports supremo Tim Campbell.

Campbell explained: "We were updating the ordinance and this provision had not been looked at for a number of years. Members of the panel felt it was just not appropriate."

There is nonetheless still hope for a bountiful Yule in Utah - the Salt Lake City Council still has to approve the change, and is reported to be "not amused". Councilman Carlton Christensen fumed: "I have a 4-year-old who still believes in Santa Claus."

The proposal goes to the vote next month. Outraged citizens are apparently planning to attend the meeting to "voice their concern". ®

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