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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
BA woos Concorde customers
BA cabin crew
BA has kept in touch with its customers
While engineers have been making the essential modifications to Concorde to prevent a repeat of last year's crash, BA's public relations team have been focusing on repairing the reputation of the supersonic fleet.

British Airways has pulled out all the stops on its public relations machine to lure back Concorde customers ahead of the aircraft taking to the skies again.

A test flight of the supersonic aircraft takes off on Tuesday - less than a year after Concorde crashed killing 113 people.


We have concentrated on reassuring people about the safety of Concorde

BA spokeswoman
British Airways hopes to resume customer flights in September but the drive to lure back its best jet set customers is already well under way.

It remains to be seen if Concorde customers will be happy to fly at twice the speed of sound on a fleet of aircraft that has been grounded since the crash near Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris in July last year.

6,000 ticket to ride

The success of any resumed Concorde flights will depend on those people rich and hurried enough, with 6,000 to spare for a return transatlantic fare between London and New York.

Already BA has probably missed out on 50m in lost profits and revenues from running Concorde in the past year.

The company is so anxious to coax back Concorde's Top 50 customers, who fly more than 20 times a year, that it has invited many to visit the aircraft hangars to see the work in progress.

A BA spokeswoman told BBC News Online that they had been keeping in touch with their regular customers.

Open days

About 50 people had attended Concorde open days which have given customers the chance to ask questions and see how the safety modifications are progressing on the seven planes.

Concorde
Concorde may resume passenger flights as early as September

But BA has had a difficult task on its hands as the memory of the Concorde flight taking off with a plume of smoke and flames at its rear remains strong.

It was a burst tyre that caused last year's crash, flinging debris at a fuel tank and starting a fire.

The spokeswoman said: "We have concentrated on reassuring people about the safety of Concorde."

She said BA and Air France had worked together on making the necessary safety improvements to ensure that they win back certificates of air-worthiness.

And BA insists that customers are as anxious as them to see the fleet fly again.

Senior figures in industry and banking, who have missed the time-saving flights, were among those who took the opportunity for a sneak preview of the improved Concordes.

"Customers like the speed and convenience.

Personal letters

"You can leave London at breakfast time and arrive in time for breakfast in New York," said the spokeswoman.

And the speed of the flight helps combat the worst of jet-lag.

She said BA chief executive Bob Eddington had written personal letters to customers to keep them informed about safety improvements.

BA said it had received thousands of letters of support from ordinary people who want to see the supersonic aircraft flying once more.


Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash

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See also:

13 May 01 | Europe
Relatives accept Concorde cash
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