were already considering cutting back on their charter program, prior to the Paris tragedy, in order to conserve aircraft cycles for their scheduled flights, which at that time were envisaged to be likely to continue until around 2010-2015.
In the aftermath of Paris, BA
suspended all Concorde charter flights whilst the engineering modifications in the return-to-service program were being carried out, because as soon as aircraft were modified, they were required for scheduled services. The priority was to get a daily JFK
service back, then the BGI
service, and then, when sufficient aircraft had been modified, the second daily JFK
service. Only once sufficient aircraft had been modified to operate all their scheduled services, would BA
even consider running any sort of charter program.
Then came 9/11, another tragedy, which, coupled with the general economic downturn that followed it, and now the possibility of war in Iraq, have all helped to degrade the future prospects for Concorde.
As a consequence, the re-introduction of the second daily JFK
service has been delayed, and a much earlier end-of-service date for Concorde than 2010-2015 is now being discussed within BA
. The various dates being discussed are so much earlier than anyone had previously envisaged, that, if confirmed, there will no longer be a need to save aircraft cycles, BA
will have more than enough available!
Let me stress that nothing has been decided or announced officially, but, if an early end-of-service date is confirmed, then - and this is only my own personal opinion, for whatever that is worth – I would hope to see Concorde back in the charter market for the last couple of years of her life, to generate as much profit as possible out of the spare aircraft cycles, before she finally goes out of service.
Sadly, any future charter flights will probably only operate out of LHR
, due to the engineering cover already in place at those airports.
I would be delighted to be proved wrong, but the days of Concorde charter flights out of airports like EMA
, hugely enjoyable though they were, are probably gone.