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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Concorde grounded for good
Concorde
Concorde has been ravaged by safety problems
Concorde flights are to end after more than three decades of luxury travel.

British Airways and Air France made simultaneous announcements that they would be permanently grounding the famous supersonic airliners this year.

Passenger numbers have never recovered since the crash near Paris in 2000 and the aircraft no longer makes a profit.

In a statement, BA said Concorde would cease flying in the autumn because of "commercial reasons, with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft".

Special deals

This is likely to come when BA's summer timetable ends on the last weekend of October.

A spokesman for BA said the company was determined the aircraft would go out in style and announced a series of special ticket deals.

Air France has said it will definitely make no more Concorde flights from 1 November, although it will suspend services from 31 May unless demand picks up.

Special ticket deals
London to New York one-way ticket on Concorde and a subsonic return in economy class for 1,999.
One-way on Concorde and a subsonic return in business class (Club World) for 2,999.
One-way on Concorde and a subsonic return in first class for 3,499.
One Concorde return flight for 3,999.
(Offers are valid from Thursday for travel until the end of August)

There had been reports it would not retire the service until as late as 2007.

Lengthy discussions between BA and the plane's manufacturer Airbus had established that an intensified maintenance programme would be needed if the iconic aircraft was to continue in service.

The airline's statement said: "BA has decided that such an investment cannot be justified in the face of falling revenue caused by a global downturn in demand for all forms of premium travel in the airline industry."

BA's chief executive Rod Eddington said: "Concorde has served us well and we are extremely proud to have flown this marvellous and unique aircraft for the past 27 years.

"This is the end of a fantastic era in world aviation, but bringing forward Concorde's retirement is a prudent business decision at a time when we are having to make difficult decisions right across the airline."

Past incidents
20 February: Emergency landing after engine problems
12 January: Nose cone malfunctions
27 Nov 02: Part of tail rudder falls off
6 Nov 02: Engine fails, sparking panic
3 Nov 02: Plane turns round after engine failure
30 Oct 02: Speed cut after window cracks spotted
July 02: Problem after engine power surge
April 02: Engine failure causes mid-air 'bang'
March 02: Take-off abandoned after computer glitch
Nov 01: Flight aborted over engine reheats


"It is with regret that Air France has decided to end operations by Concorde," said Air France chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

Air France said the decision was taken because of "the deterioration of business results from the transatlantic service", the aircraft's only scheduled route.

BA said retiring the ageing Concordes would result in 84m write-off costs for the year ended March 2003.

The airline intends to make sure Concorde bows out in style, with a special programme of events and the planes themselves destined for museums.

Concorde has been blighted by a rash of problems.

Three years ago 113 people were killed in the Paris crash.

HAVE YOUR SAY
A sad day for the national pride of the engineering classes
Tom Sheppard, UK

A number of unrelated incidents including engine failure, cracked windows, a broken nose cone and part of a rudder dropping off have disrupted flights.

Currently, BA's Concordes are certified to fly until 2009.

The plane operates daily out of London Heathrow and Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to North America.

It cruises at around 1350 mph at an altitude of up to 60,000ft (11 miles) meaning a crossing from Europe to New York takes less than three and a half hours.




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