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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 04:41 GMT 05:41 UK
BA spurns fresh Concorde bid
Concorde taking off
Concorde is due to be grounded in October

Virgin airline boss Sir Richard Branson's renewed attempt to buy five now-defunct Concorde supersonic airliners from British Airways for 5m has been rejected.

"Concorde is not for sale," a BA spokesman said. "Our position is absolutely unchanged on that."

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

Sir Richard's renewed bid, according to the Sunday Times, came partly because of public clamour to keep the iconic planes flying.

BA's refusal is hardly surprising, since the airline is deeply reluctant to hand such a huge publicity coup to its arch-rival.

The airline said it is considering keeping one plane in flight-ready condition, for special occasions and airshows.

End of an era?

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

Five planes fly the three-hour route, which - thanks to the fact that New York is five hours behind London in time-zone terms - gets passengers to the US seemingly two hours before they took off.

A further two planes are non-operational, and Virgin was believed to want them for free as part of the 5m offer, as sources for spare parts.

If the offer had been successful, flights to New York and Barbados would continue, Sir Richard told the Sunday Times, and Dubai would be added as a new destination.

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