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Sir Richard And The Concorde?  
User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3656 times:

Why didn't VS and Sir Richard lobby harder to get a few Concorde in their fleet? Is the cost of upkeep that much? I can only imagine where VS would be with two-three Concorde in their line up. Comments?

AA777jr

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSATL382G From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3595 times:

Airbus declined to support it. When the manufacturer won't support a product the support costs to the airline skyrocket. I don't think even the most diehard and affluent Concorde pax could make it profitable for VS.

regard


User currently offlineRunway25 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 122 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3560 times:

A very good point "SATL382G". If Airbus declined support then the costs would have been astronomical. No doubt too much for any carrier.

However I still can't help thinking (rightly or wrongly) on a non business angle that BA & AF would have appreciated another airline flying their one time flagships. Concorde did in the main get good media coverage.


User currently offlineShamrock_747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3546 times:

It was all another one of Branson's publicity stunts. He knew full well VS were not capable of operating Concorde but used it as an opportunity for some free publicity and to make BA look bad.

The only realistic chance of Concorde flying in commercial service post-retirement was the Concorde Alliance project headed by some senior BA staff. In the end this wasn't possible though.


User currently offlineTheBigOne From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 3470 times:

Oh how I wish BA had given him the Concordes. Hopefully he would have gone bust just having one fuelled up and we wouldn't have to put up with his pathetic publicity stunts!


Reach for the stars - they are closer than you think!
User currently offlineBALandorLivery From UK - England, joined Jan 2005, 360 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 3440 times:

Ye it was just for publicity in my opinion.

The manufacturer had already chosen not to support it so any talk of it staying around was ill founded.

I dont think it would have looked good in Virgin colours either.

Besides, don't they have to be painted white to fly at Mach 2.0?

Didn't Air France's blue pepsi concorde have a speed limit of Mach 1.7 because the blue reflects less heat and the skin would heat up too much?

Mind you, Virgins silver may reflect just as much as the white.


User currently offlineReady4Pushback From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2004, 364 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 3397 times:

It was all another one of Branson's publicity stunts. He knew full well VS were not capable of operating Concorde but used it as an opportunity for some free publicity and to make BA look bad.

Well, if he could see a publicity opportunity, and didn't take the chance to make something of it, he wouldn't be where he is now, would he?

VS did campaign hard - I remember they had Tony Blair chairing a meeting with them and BA at Downing St to try and convince them. I also remember watching one or two documentaries and news reports saying that after the AF Concorde crash, AF had decided to stop flying it as it wasn't profitable. The French president apparently didn't want other airlines flying it if AF wasn't, so put pressure on Airbus to stop support for it (these are not my opinions, by the way - just what was in the news!).

BAs Concorde's apparently weren't profitable for some time before that on their scheduled service alone - they were chartered out - and that made them profitable (for BA).


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 7, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3365 times:

It was BS, nothing more, (for the at least credulous or just plain ill-informed on aviation, to lap up).

Now I don't doubt his affection for the aircraft, he flew enough on BA
Concorde, on an ID ticket I might add (probably hoped he'd be bumped off by a fare paying pax giving him another chance to whine).

However, After making his TV studio tour in April 2003, he got a meeting with both Airbus and the CAA, in late May, both told him it was not going to happen.
You can judge for yourself why he carried on about it afterwards, raising the hopes of many for his cheap PR.

Why would the CAA object, well they knew how much of a specialized bird it was, how tiny was the expertise base to maintain it, many of my colleagues in BA Concorde Engineering had been with the type since the start of BA service in 1976, many of these additionally had been involved with it before then, at their construction at BAC.
CAA knew full well that this level of experience was needed, VS didn't have it, they'd never get it, even of BA were selling, which of course they were not.
Funny how Branson hardly ever mentioned AF in all this, their fleet had much lower flying hours (BA's would have needed large expenditures soon in this regard).

To illustrate what a different beast it was, in late 1997, NASA visited us, they wanted to know how we maintained a tiny fleet of vehicles, long out of production, clearly they were thinking of the Shuttle in this.

Maybe AF were hardly mentioned because although BA replied to his comments with polite fact filled rebuttal, despite the outright lies Branson told, the biggest being 'BA got them for a £' (the 5 sold direct cost 20% more than a 747 in 1972), or that BA somehow owed the UK for operating the aircraft, at least we replied to him at all!.

Concorde only carried on as long as it did as in 1982/3, BA did a deal to largely take over support from government, the alternative would have been a end to UK government support, leading to a termination probably by the mid 1980's.
Then support costs would effectively double, likely ending AF's operation too (in 2003 the reverse happened, AF wanted out, BA could not carry the whole support costs, they might have done for say 18 months to 2 years in a better business environment, such as the mid to late 1990's when Concorde was making around £30 million a year, but certainly not in the terrible environment of 2003).
But, AF never even replied to Branson's less public, but still derisory offer for some AF aircraft, he'd failed to get a wet lease on maybe one AF Concorde a couple of times in the 1990's.

He must have known from the start it wasn't going to happen, the CAA/Airbus meeting would have confirmed this.

My guess is that he would have been happy with just one aircraft in VS colours, for a short time, even if it never flew, he was greatly envious of BA's commercial success with Concorde from the mid 80's to 2000, he could not upgrade regular commercially important pax on to a supersonic service after all.
Like a spoilt brat, he just didn't like it.

BA took on a risk in 1982/3, being privatized a few years later they'd not want a big loss maker on the books, BA had to make Concorde work, they also needed to invest heavily, which they did.
BA were also to lead the pressure for the return to flight in 2000/2001, which even Branson had to admit was vital in getting it back flying.

If you really want to blame anyone for Concorde going a few years early, (I miss it terribly, both for work and being an enthusiast), blame the 19 hijackers of Sept 11th 2001, that really made re-launching shortly afterwards a risk, it affected the market so much that even if AF had not been determined to pull out in 2003, BA might well have only kept going until October 2004, maybe if things had picked up some, into 2005.

AF have privatisation coming along, they never made much of a profit on Concorde, even in better times.
For all the flak aimed for no good reason, at Airbus in all this, they got it flying in 2001, we had the impression that maybe for understandable reasons, AF were not keen at all, pressure from the French government perhaps changed this, after Airbus came up with quite inexpensive mods with great speed, in late 2000.




User currently offlineJacobin777 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 14968 posts, RR: 59
Reply 8, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3284 times:

damn GDB..thanks for the marvelous insights....quite fascinating..i think my biggest regret in life so far was not to take the opportunity to fly AF's concorde back in 1999-2000 when they had the "buy roundtrip business class from JFK-CDG-JFK and fly the concorde on one of the routes for free".....the fare was actually not too expensive either...i actually checked it out....
it would have been amazing....and I had the $$$$ back then too (i.e. market heyday).......such a shame..i was hoping that the concorde would have flown for a few more years so that I could have saved up enough money to fly it just once in my life...



"Up the Irons!"
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3242 times:

I should perhaps point out another Concorde myth, at their peak, charters accounted for some 9% of BA Concorde revenue, AF may have been more profitable in this area, but not BA.

Most was from the JFK routes, in the later years the scheduled BGI routes were also very profitable.

All this stuff about AF or Airbus plots, are bunk, the truth is far more boring, Blair had no input at all, as UK government were not involved for the 20 years before the retirement, his contribution, welcome as it was, was to charter the aircraft.
At the peak of charters, BA were operating some 250-300 per year, a wide range from round the worlds to round the bays, but always, operationally, scheduled services took precedence in planning.

Before the AF accident, BA were planning to axe many regular charters, as the use of airframe life was getting disproportionate to the revenue created, as the aircraft aged.

Ironically, the least profitable charters, round the bays, would probably have remained, at least out of LHR, as they were easy to do, you could fit one in around midday then use the same aircraft on the scheduled BA003 evening flight to JFK, or if an aircraft was just off maintenance, you could wring it out on such a flight, earning a bit of revenue as you did so.

Though round the bays from other airfields would likely have gone anyway.

But LHR round the bays allowed many to fly on Concorde, supersonically, at a much lower price, good PR for BA, also deflating all that Branson nonsense about BA restricting Concorde to the rich.
Round the bays were, like most Concorde service innovations, something that BA developed and ran with.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 10, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3186 times:

Jacobin777, I am always saddened to hear of those who never made it on board, inevitable as it is.

I was lucky, as BA staff I got a very cheap seat on a IAD-LHR in November 1993, after joining BA Concorde Engineering in April 1997, I came to see what a unique operation it was, after the return to flight I made sure I did some more, as well as being on an full scale test for crews, new seats, new menus, with 99 of my colleagues, on a LHR-LHR, (but 3.5 hrs, half way across the pond and back), but this was on Sept 11th 2001
.
As well as more normal air-tests and the last flight of OAE, to it's BGI resting place, in November 2003, an enjoyable but bittersweet flight.

However, though I wish that the accident had not happened, had it not, with things carrying as before July 2000, one result of Sept 11th might well have been AF stopping, as well as BA looking very hard at it's operation, had AF stopped at this time, BA would have to have followed within months.

As it was, with all the return to flight effort, it was thought worthwhile to give it a try, although BA's extensive market research and customer consultation (we even had the top 100 users in the hangar to see the mods in March 2001), indicating that 95% would return, was now in the wake of the attacks, now in tatters.
Prior to the terror attacks, we planned to have 6 aircraft back by mid 2002, allowing double daily scheduled flights to resume either from April or October 2002. Eventually, when a gap in maintenance presented itself, OAA, the last aircraft to be modded, would be done and then a limited charter programme, would have resumed.

A 2003 retirement was not BA's choice, however costs were rising fast, some for maintenance of aging aircraft, not all even Concorde specific, was another severe pressure unexpected even months before, add to AF's own operational problems, it was all too much.
Airbus would support Concorde, but of course not for free, if one operator pulled out Airbus had to advise the other of the cost consequences, then let them decide, which is what happened.

After this, BA were determined to give it a great send off, hence them sticking to their demand for support until October 2003, as pax numbers surged, Concorde suddenly became more profitable than it had ever been, now the role was to give BA a much needed boost in 2003.

However, BA were not in a position to offer charters, the suddeness of the events of early 2003 had not allowed much time for maintenance planning, hence BA having two aircraft, OAD and OAF, that would end service almost out of hours before heavy maintenance.
(OAF was due first, but had we started the check as planned, in April/May, by the time it was ready to re-join the pack, we'd be close to finishing anyway).

Not bringing OAB back to flight in 2002, was with hindsight, a mistake, this was seen at the time as a tempoary move designed to save costs, all parts of BA had to contribute cost savings in the wake of Sept 11th, but had OAB returned to flight we might have seen some round the bays in 2003, (a reduced schedule post Sept 11th supported just one JFK each way, rather than two, so OAA wasn't needed, besides, as of August 2000 when it last flew, it too was due a very big check).

Given the circumstances, BA did what it could to give Concorde a fitting send off.



User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3032 times:

I thought I remembered Tony Blair getting involved. Guess Sir Richard just couldn't get enough support to get a Concorde in VS livery.

Regards
AA777jr


User currently offlineJacobin777 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 14968 posts, RR: 59
Reply 12, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3001 times:

well GDB...I think you are a very, very fortunate person to be involved so intimately with such a marvelous piece of aircraft...I have heard only recently how some of those concorde flights were....and hindsight is 20/20...knowing what I know now, I would have happily sold a bunch of stocks back in the heyday to fly the concorde just once in my life......  Sad

thanks for the wonderful insights...may the beauty rest in peace (well..until somebody figures out profitable economics of it)



"Up the Irons!"
User currently offlineSwisskloten From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 8 months 16 hours ago) and read 2826 times:

It was all another one of Branson's publicity stunts. He knew full well VS were not capable of operating Concorde but used it as an opportunity for some free publicity and to make BA look bad.

Shamrock747: Exactly what evidence do you have to support this? Like some of Branson's critics, you seem to be just bad-mouthing him just because you can. That's low and cheap. Leave him alone. BA isn't exactly a great airline either. I have flown both VS and BA. Have you? I can't prove this but I wouldn't be surprised if most of Branson's critics have never flown his airline.


User currently offlineManu From Canada, joined Dec 2004, 406 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (9 years 8 months 6 hours ago) and read 2681 times:

What is an "around the bay" flight? How much would such service cost?

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 15, posted (9 years 8 months 3 hours ago) and read 2628 times:

'Round The Bays' were basically a 90 minute or so flight, that usually returned to the point of departure, mostly, but not always from LHR.
Called as such as many of the early ones did this via the Bay of Biscay.

Although the very first one was pre service, in 1974, when Concorde supporting minister (one of very few) Tony Benn, arranged a 'thankyou' for some BAC Concorde production staff, using the first UK prototype 001, which had a cabin at the time fitted for around 50 pax, the rest being test equipment.

In 1978, a senior BA Concorde pilot, Brian Calvert, arranged a flight for the regulars of his local pub, with a much smaller fuel uplift than a transatlantic flight costs were reduced, 100 people chipped in to charter the aircraft.
Within a few years, several charter companies were doing these sort of flights, of course many charters in those days were to places like Cairo, Venice and Pisa, but the most numerous were round the bays, as time went on BA Concorde did round the bays from places like MAN, BHX, LBA, LPL and EDI.

AF also did them, CDG-CDG, unlike BA after the 2001 relaunch, AF re-instated them, on Saturdays, when AF Concorde was not flying it's scheduled JFK service.

In the mid 1990's a round the bay would cost around £600, I think by early 2000 they were about £800-£900.

Often on Christmas day, BA would run a LHR-LHR, to allow more time for the inevitable lines of pax taking their turns to be pictured next to the cabin displays showing Mach 2.00 / 58,000 feet, as well as queuing to take a look in the cockpit, Christmas lunch was served onboard before the aircraft pushed back.

Some examples of BA Concorde flying days in 1999, showing how charters fitted in;

Sunday 28th Feb 1999, (all times LHR local);
08.50 / BA273 / LHR-BGI / G-BOAC
10.00 / BA001 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAB
13.45 / BA002 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAG
14.05 / BA9010C / LHR-LHR / G-BOAF
16.45 / BA272 / BGI-LHR / G-BOAC
18.45 / BA004 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAB
19.00 / BA003 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAA

Monday 3rd May 1999;
08.50 / BA9020C / LHR-FZO / G-BOAB
10.30 / BA001 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAE
12.00 / BA9021C / FZO-FZO / G-BOAB
13.45 / BA002 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAG
15.00 / BA9022C / FZO-FZO / G-BOAB
17.30 / BA9023C / FZO-LHR / G-BOAB
18.45 / BA004 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAE
19.00 / BA003 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAA

Friday 10th Sept 1999;
10.05 / BA9020C / LHR-BOH / G-BOAE
10.30 / BA001 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAF
11.40 / BA9021C / BOH-PSA / G-BOAE
13.45 / BA002 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAD
15.45 / BA9023C / PSA-BOH / G-BOAE
18.45 / BA004 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAF
19.00 / BA003 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAG
19.20 / BA9025C / BOH-LHR / G-BOAE

Sunday 31st October 1999;
10.30 / BA001 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAA
10.50 / BA9010C / LHR-LHR / G-BOAB
13.45 / BA002 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAF
18.45 / BA004 / JFK-LHR / G-BOAA
19.00 / BA003 / LHR-JFK / G-BOAC

Saturday 25th December 1999;
14.00 / BA9010C / LHR-LHR / G-BOAG

While I cannot speak for Shamrock, I don't know of any airline employee or enthusiast who does not think VS are not a good airline.
Clearly they are.

However, in the UK you have to put up with Branson's incessant PR, always playing some kind of altruistic businessman, never mind the tax avoidance, attempt at getting control of national lottery claiming everything would go to charity-when that would not have been the case, hence the government rejecting his bid, or his part in the terrible railway service since the botched privatisation in 1995.









User currently offlineShamrock_747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (9 years 8 months 1 hour ago) and read 2527 times:

Shamrock747: Exactly what evidence do you have to support this? Like some of Branson's critics, you seem to be just bad-mouthing him just because you can. That's low and cheap. Leave him alone. BA isn't exactly a great airline either. I have flown both VS and BA. Have you? I can't prove this but I wouldn't be surprised if most of Branson's critics have never flown his airline.

BA and VS are competitors but could Branson, as an industry professional who knew the reasons for the retirement, not have acknowledged that BA were working hard to give Concorde a fitting send-off and let it go? No, instead he made a fuss in the media and painted "BA can't keep Concorde up" on the side of a VS A346.

Whilst I dislike Branson my intentions are not to come across as critical of VS. I have in fact flown many times on VS in all their cabins and think very highly of them. I prefer BA, but that is simply a matter of personal taste.


User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 33
Reply 17, posted (9 years 7 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2346 times:


>>>What is an "around the bay" flight? How much would such service cost?

This is an "around the bay" flight or, more appropriate in this case, a "boucle supersonique":

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/33075/

shameless plug... Big grin  Laugh out loud  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Daniel Smile


User currently offlineRichie87 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 61 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 7 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2201 times:

My own impression is that most Americans think the Brits have gotten a tad bit carried away with coronations of Knighthood on a lot of folks, including business people, rock stars, actors, and anybody else who brought unmitigated PUBLICITY to the Empire; to say nothing of monetary reward. Still, Sir Richard is one that seems to merit a fair amount of admiration amongst Americans... he's certainly successful, does some interesting stunts, very entrepenurial, which us Yanks do indeed love, and comes across as pretty classy and un-stuffy as well.

Yep, I do suspect his pursuit of Concorde service gathered some publicity, but as some others have said... "so what?". Nobody can quite argue with his relative success, and beyond that, those who pay keen attention to his business acumen know he's no light-weight and can be a fierce negotiator. In that he's ALWAYS been front-and-center of his airline ops and publicity therein... it seems his "stunts" are merely his nature as a person and a businessman. I have never yet flown on Virgin Atlantic, but there's no particular reason for that... just did not work out. The guy is gonna keep us all entertained for some years to come, I would expect...


User currently offlineJmc757 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2000, 1298 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (9 years 7 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2184 times:

Trouble with Branson is that people take him too seriously! Of course he knew that he'd never get it, but it was a great PR exercise. Branson is a PR man at the end of the day, but hes not all that serious a lot of the time. A lot of people get wound up about the slogans on VS aircraft, but its only tongue-in-cheek. At the end of the day he's a great business man, look what he's built up from nothing. Didn't he actually get awarded the lottery liscense, but then Camelot appealed againt losing it and got it back? We don't know that he wouldn't have ran the lottery how he said (ie. not-for-profit).

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