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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Virgin boss wants Concorde plan
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard has written to BA with his proposals
Sir Richard Branson has told the BBC he is "deadly serious" about bidding to keep Concorde flying.

The Virgin boss also wants a Concorde "summit" to look at ways of keeping the supersonic plane flying.

The company hopes such a summit might support Sir Richard's hopes that one or two Concordes could be preserved for occasional flying by a heritage trust.

Sir Richard told the BBC: "We have said to BA [British Airways], if you won't let us have them, let's form a charitable trust, which I will help fund with 1m.

"We would house all seven British-built planes in Filton, Bristol, and try to persuade Air France to do the same - to keep the planes flying for the next 25 years."

Concorde taking off
It would be industrial sabotage if, by the end of October, those planes never fly again
Sir Richard Branson

In a letter to British Airways, Sir Richard said that "a highly-credible third party organisation" - thought to be Qinetiq, formerly the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency - would be willing to maintain the aircraft.

It is the huge maintenance costs of Concorde that has largely led to its being retired.

In the interview with BBC Points West, Sir Richard added: "Almost every move we have made to BA, they have said is a publicity stunt.

Rejected bid

"Our response to that is, why don't they give us the planes and fall flat on our face? But they won't because they know we will be successful.

"Concorde itself has made money for years, and we think it can make money for years to come.

"It would be industrial sabotage if by the end of October, those planes never fly again," he added.

Sir Richard's attempt to buy Concorde supersonic airliners from British Airways for 5m has already been rejected.

After Virgin's first bid of a pound per aircraft - the amount BA paid the government for the planes in 1984 - fell on deaf ears, Sir Richard turned to the government to intervene, but that plea failed to get anywhere.

As it stands, BA will stop flying Concorde to New York in October after more than three decades, because the service is unprofitable.




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