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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Concorde flies the BA flag
Concorde in flight on Tuesday
Concorde is British Airways' most recognised symbol
Putting Concorde, the flagship of the British Airways fleet, back in the air is of primary importance for the airline.

The supersonic plane travelled under BA's top flight codes - BA001 and BA002 - on the key route between London and New York and was a by-word for the jet-set for more than a quarter of a century.

On the company's website, the delights of Concorde are still touted:

"Travelling at twice the speed of sound, you arrive in New York before you took off from London. Concorde crosses the Atlantic in 3 hours 50 minutes. It combines high-speed performance with unequalled levels of service."

But the future of the world's only supersonic passenger aircraft is far from clear.

The airline hopes the test flight at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday will pave the way for the return to commercial service.

BA pride

Since the crash BA has invested 31m in a redevelopment programme.

The airline has spent 17m on safety enhancements, and 14m on interior improvements.

"We are making sure that when Concorde does come back the product is substantially enhanced," Mr Eddington said earlier this year.

British Airways wants to get Concorde flying again because of its key role in attracting the wealthy and profitable passengers it most wants to fill its planes with.

If it does not fly again it will be a huge blow for British Airways' image.

If it does fly again there are a dozen Concordes left that are capable of flying on for at least the next 10 years.

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13 May 01 | Europe
Relatives accept Concorde cash
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