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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Concorde takes off from Cardiff
The jet took off from Cardiff on Thursday afternoon
A Concorde jet which was forced to land at Cardiff International Airport after engine problems has left to complete its journey.

Crowds of aviation fans turned up at the airport in the Vale of Glamorgan for a rare glimpse of the multi-million pound jet taking off on Thursday.

The British Airways flight, travelling from New York's JFK airport, landed at Cardiff International Airport at 1845 BST on Wednesday.

A BA spokesman said the Concorde was diverted to Cardiff because it was running short of fuel.

The plane remained in south Wales overnight while specialist engineers carried out checks.

All 99 passengers got off the plane and were taken to Heathrow by bus or taxi.

The airline said there was never any danger to passengers or crew, and apologised to travellers for any inconvenience.

The spokesman said 17 passengers had missed onward connections.

BA said the Concorde flight BA002 was diverted into Cardiff "as a temporary precaution" following an engine surge in one of its four engines during the flight.

I was absolutely petrified, it was pretty scary
Passenger Mhairi Watson

"The aircraft had to fly subsonic for part of the journey, and used more fuel. As a result it had to land at Cardiff," he added.

Engineers from General Electric Aircraft Engine Servicing, an American-owned repair facility at Nantgarw, Caerphilly, which regularly services Concorde engines, were called to inspect the plane.

Despite apologies from the airline, many passengers were furious at the delay.

John Crelly, 39, said : "The whole point of the trip was to have a fantastic holiday followed by the experience of flying on Concorde.

"We sat on the Tarmac for an hour before they opened a special runway for us".

His partner, Mhairi Watson, described how passengers heard a loud bang in mid-air and the plane immediately decelerated and descended.

"I was absolutely petrified, it was pretty scary," she said.

Mr Crelly added: "There was no communication we suddenly just dropped. The air crew suddenly packed everything up and told us the captain was very busy but would speak to us shortly. Finally he came on the line to tell us what had happened."

Cardiff airport
Journeys to and from the airport were not affected
The couple said they would be seeking compensation for the cost of their trip which they described as "the best part of 10,000".

New Yorker Patricia Ayearst said she was very angry at the way the passengers had been treated.

"It was pretty scary. There was a sound like we'd hit a brick wall."

Ms Ayearst said it was her second trip on Concorde. "I travelled with them 20 years ago and everything went off perfectly. I thought that I'd take this flight because it was my last chance before they went out of service."

A couple in their 60s from Florida had taken the flight as a birthday treat. Carol Toman told how husband Jerry, a retired helicopter pilot, had booked the trip as a surprise gift.

"The flight was wonderful and the dinner was wonderful," she said. "They just had engine trouble and they did what they had to. They've done what was sufficient."

An airport spokesman said the landing did not disrupt any of the regular traffic in and out of Cardiff Airport.

Concorde has landed at Cardiff on at least six occasions and will visit again on 23 October as part of a farewell tour before being retired.

Concorde flights are ending next month after more than three decades of luxury travel.

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

Passenger numbers have never recovered since an Air France Concorde crashed on take-off from Paris in July 2000, killing 113 people.

The BBC's Jon Brain
"Their transatlantic journey came to a premature end"

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