British Airways announced today the retirement of its
Concorde fleet of seven aircraft with effect from the end of October 2003.
The airline said that its decision had been made for commercial reasons with
passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance
costs for the aircraft.
Detailed discussions over an extended period with Airbus, the aircraft's
manufacturer, confirmed the need for an enhanced maintenance programme in the
coming years, the carrier added.
British Airways has decided that such an investment cannot be justified in the
face of falling revenue caused by a global downturn in demand for all forms of
premium travel in the airline industry.
The downturn has had a negative impact on Concorde bookings and is set to
continue for the foreseeable future, according to the airline.
Rod Eddington, British Airways' chief executive, said: 'Concorde has served us
well and we are extremely proud to have flown this marvellous and unique
aircraft for the past 27 years.
'This is the end of a fantastic era in world aviation but bringing forward
Concorde's retirement is a prudent business decision at a time when we are
having to make difficult decisions right across the airline.'
Noel Forgeard, president and chief executive officer of Airbus, said: 'Airbus'
predecessors Aerospatiale and British Aircraft Corporation created Concorde some
40 years ago and we are proud of this remarkable achievement.
'But its maintenance regime is increasing fast with age. Thus, as an aircraft
manufacturer, we understand completely and respect the decision of British
Airways, especially in the present economic climate.
'It goes without saying that until the completion of the very last flight, we
will continue to support the airline so that the highest standards of
maintenance and safety are entirely fulfilled.'
Mr Eddington added that today's announcement is not a direct result of war in
He said: 'While the threat of war and resulting military conflict have had a
further impact on premium travel demand, the decision to retire Concorde has
been based on a long-term revenue and cost trend rather than recent events.
'I would like to place publicly on record my sincere thanks and appreciation to
all our staff, past and present, who have made the Concorde story one of the
most compelling in the history of commercial flight.
'Our pride in the aircraft will never wane and I am determined that we make its
final six months in the sky a time for celebration.'
Retiring Concorde will result in £84m write-off costs for the year ended March
The airline is already planning to make its Concordes available for the public
to view in museums.
To honour the past 30 years of supersonic travel, British Airways will announce
shortly a programme of special events and promotions for air travellers.
For the next few months, British Airways will continue to operate its Concorde
services between London Heathrow and New York JFK
and seasonal services to