Taking Its Concordes Off Flying Status
Virgin International, whose bids for
Concordes has risen a million-fold (from 1 pound
Sterling each, to the current offer of $8.3 million, for the
five remaining flying examples from BA's fleet), won't be getting
the airliners. That's what British Airways is saying; and the
Concordes are theirs to dispose of.
BA, through spokesmen, has said that the Concorde is simply
finished flying; 2003 will be its last year. As for Sir Richard
Branson's (seen below, right) bids, British says that the airliners
are just too old, and require too much maintenance -- something
they weren't saying when they were spending millions to bring the
fleet into spec, just a couple years ago.
The Concorde, always a marginal contributor to both BA's and Air
France's bottom lines, has been a money-loser since before the
July, 2000 crash; but its prestige was never in doubt. Since
September of 2001, though, with airlines' hitting harder-yet times,
the Concordes' inordinate need for attention, and its decreasing
profitability, have brought the beautiful old birds to the ground,
probably for good.
Branson thinks he could make money with the
He issued a statement
this weekend that said, "We have operators ready to help us keep it
flying and would serve New York, Barbados -- and Dubai, a new
destination for the plane." That may be, in fact, why BA doesn't
want him to have it.
It was easy for British Airways management to reject
Branson's original bid; the more-serious $8.3 million, though,
can't be simply ignored. Now, British Airways spokeswoman Jo
Devereux says simply, "The aircraft are not for sale."
BA also rejected a reported offer by Branson, of $1.66 million,
to help set up a trust that would keep two Concordes in flying
trim, for what he called, 'semi-commercial' use.