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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
BA suspends Concorde flights
BA Concorde at Heathrow
Two BA Concorde flights were cancelled on Tuesday
British Airways has suspended Concorde flights after one of the supersonic jets crashed into a hotel after take-off from Paris, killing at least 113 people.

Senior BA managers cancelled two Concorde services - the BA003 from Heathrow to New York and the BA004 the other way - two hours after the disaster involving an Air France Concorde.

British Airways' first concern always is safety

British Airways
The company said the move was "unprecedented" and it is continuing to review the safety of its seven-strong Concorde fleet as an investigation into the cause of the crash begins.

In a statement BA said: "We have complete confidence in our Concorde aircraft and our engineering.

"Nevertheless in these circumstances - and while information is still coming in - we have taken the unprecedented step of cancelling tonight's flights.

Passengers booked on the cancelled flights were offered transfers to other subsonic aircraft. BA met with its counterparts at Air France and will decide whether to cancel further services on Wednesday.

Mixed feelings

The 97 businessmen and holidaymakers due to fly on the cancelled flight to New York greeted BA's decision with feeling ranging from relief to annoyance.

The crash shattered Concorde's proud safety record
One shaken passenger said he had been "very apprehensive" about boarding the plane at Heathrow when BA grounded it just 30 minutes before take-off.

But Russian advertising executive Dimitri Kuroskov expressed frustration at missing a business meeting.

Mr Kuroskov, 32, from Moscow, said: "Concorde is double safe. What happens is going to happen. I'm going to miss my meeting, but I will sleep well on the [replacement] 747.

"Waiting for board was very psychologically suspenseful."

Internet executive Henrique Segura, 30, said: "The passenger wants to feel all the security measures possible have been taken care of and BA has done that. But Concorde is safe."

Japanese businessman Cyrus Tsui said he would never fly Concorde again.

'Engine fire'

The BA statement continued: "British Airways' first concern always is safety. All our aircraft are subject to continuing and exhaustive safety checks," the statement continued.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues at Air France, and all those involved in this tragedy."

Two British air accident investigators have already left for France to help investigate the crash. Another investigator will leave on Wednesday to assist the French authorities.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman said it was "inappropriate" to take any action over UK Concordes until the French authorities reveal the findings of their investigations.

Eyewitnesses said they saw one of the Concorde's engines on fire before it crashed.

It emerged on Monday that "microscopic" cracks were detected on the wings of BA's Concorde fleet during maintenance checks - and Air France said it had detected cracks on four of its six Concordes..

Speaking from the Farnborough air show, aviation analyst Paul Beaver said: "It is too early to speculate whether the plane has crashed because of this [the cracks]. The crash could have happened for a raft of reasons."

For information on British Airways Concorde flights on Tuesday call 0208 897 6333.

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | Europe
Concorde Paris crash kills 113
25 Jul 00 | UK
Q&A: Cracks in Concorde
25 Jul 00 | UK
Concorde 'still the safest'
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