MONARCH
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Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:20 pm

BBC NEWS:

Branson to fight for Concorde


Sir Richard Branson has told the BBC that Virgin Atlantic may seek government help if British Airways does not allow it to operate Concorde.
Last week, Sir Richard offered to buy the supersonic planes from British Airways for £1 after BA said it would be retiring the planes later this year.

Passenger numbers have never recovered since Concorde's crash near Paris in 2000 and the aircraft is unprofitable.

But Sir Richard said Virgin Atlantic would be able to operate the plane because the carrier is more efficient than BA.

Supersonic plea

"We would very much like to fly Concorde," Sir Richard told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"Since Concorde was built by the British taxpayer at the cost of some billions of pounds and given to British Airways for one pound, if there is a carrier such as Virgin Atlantic with a lower cost base and willing to operate it, we believe British Airways... ought to hand the planes over to Virgin Atlantic."

Sir Richard said BA should not be mothballing the planes when they still had several years flying life left in them.

"I've written to British Airways and asked them if they will give us the planes rather than giving the planes to a museum.

"At the moment I've had a negative response and so I think our next move will be to go to the government... and ask them if they can intervene on our behalf."

The situation is now getting interesting! Your comments please...

Regards

Monarch
 
MEA-707
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:32 pm

A cheap and bullying loudmouth PR stunt... Branson demands a package of the planes and the check in lounge and slots for one GBP, a totally unreasonable request. BA invested millions in these, in the original Concorde program itself, quite reasonable then they handed out the unsold Concordes to the two loyal sponsors Air France and BA, and again BA invested millions in the upgrade program after the grounding. Without Concorde, the pax will mainly fly BA first class.
How much I'd like to see Concorde continue to fly, if Branson really has guts, he should account the actual current value of the Concordes, the slots, the lounge and the opportunity costs of loosing pax for BA, and name a reasonable offer. But I'm sure he shouldn't know what to do if BA turned the tables on him and say "OK, you can have them for free if you guarantee to fly them to JFK daily till 2007"
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MxCtrlr
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:43 pm

Since it is my understanding, that when BAC and SUD Aviation built Concorde (not specifically British Airways and Air France, but their GOVERNMENTS), they did so with British and French government backing and, in the government agreement with BA at that time (and BA was a state-run airline then), if BA ever dropped these aircraft from their fleet, they could be offered to another carrier at the same price BA paid for them 1 Pound Sterling each. BA was quick to take that offer and agree to those terms, now, it would appear that Sir Richard Branson has a valid contractual point. I think what this really boils down to is BA doesn't want to see "their" flagship go into the hands of Virgin Atlantic - there's definitely no love lost between the two carriers anyway. Go, Sir Richard!

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
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captcjmac
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:46 pm

Branson is a marketing genius and getting a Concorde in the VA fleet after the widely publicized retirement of the Concorde would be the biggest marketing stunt he has ever pulled off. Even though it is probably unlikely that he would receive one, I certainly would not count him out. Virgin Atlantic has done amazing things to the airline industry not only in Europe but all over the world. I really hope they do get a Concorde cause I want to continue to see it fly. Good luck Richard!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
David_itl
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:49 pm

As far as I'm aware, the various modifications needed amount to some £40 million, so it's not just a question of buying the aircraft for £1! He'd need to get some serious usage out Concorde operations for him to make profits (and wouldn't he need to employ the entire Concorde engineering department at BA as well?).

David

[Edited 2003-04-17 15:50:43]
 
teva
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:52 pm

I hope Branson will be able to keep Concorde flying.
And even a 1 GBP deal could be good for BA by signing a contract with Virgin for crew training and maintenance.
Concorde Mx specialists are only at BA and AF. Virgin does not have the skills nor the tools.
It gives BA 2 options: transfer all the maintenance people, or contract them.
Teva
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hoons90
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 11:27 pm

I hope to see the Concorde flying for many many years, Branson to the rescue!!

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BestWestern
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 11:32 pm

Just another classic Branson publicity stunt...
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ANA777Master
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 11:35 pm

Why are his lips always so red?
 
Ikarus
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Thu Apr 17, 2003 11:50 pm

If he was serious, he'd contact Air France as well as BA. After all, they are twice as likely to be willing to sell their planes...

But as he wants all the goodies along with the planes (slots, lounges, and who-knows-what-else), he's basically just fooling around and grabbing press attention.

I'd love to see Concorde in Virgin livery. But I doubt it's gonna happen, ever. (Unless he pays a museum to repaint the plane in Virgin Atlantic colours)
 
BeltwayBandit
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 12:17 am

That almost guarantees that they'll end up in a museum. If BA and AF want to keep them out of circulation, they can get a nice write-off by donating them.
 
donder10
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 12:38 am

In other news today, the ANET flying B762 plan was announced to an exuberant crowd outside Kingston cinema.
 
LMP737
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 12:55 am

Sounds like Mr. Branson is looking for some more free publicity.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
777236ER
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:22 am

BA bought TWO aircraft for £1, and paid dearly in terms of actual price and maintence for the others.

If Branson really wants to set up his own Concorde maintence facility, let him try. Maybe BA should call his bluff and see what happens...

Like it or not, the Concorde's are owned by BA.
Your bone's got a little machine
 
qantas744
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 3:44 am

So was that Kingston Jamaica or Kingston Surrey......?!



Matt
you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll
 
rj777
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 4:50 am

here we go! Ding! Round One!
 
donder10
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 4:57 am

LOL gotta be Kingston-upon-Thames.
The write-down costs for retiring Concorde are like 80M GBP.Perhaps they could pass this indirectly onto Branson before he realises that he is swallowed too much.
 
qantas744
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 4:58 am

Great! Must make sure I buy the local paper tomorrow to get all the details!


Matt
you can't buy time but you can sell your soul and the closest thing to heaven is to rock'n'roll
 
ANA777Master
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 5:09 am

"Perhaps they could pass this indirectly onto Branson before he realises that he has swallowed too much".
Perhaps this is why his lips are so red.
 
BWIA 772
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:00 am


Well BA can do it and still get something out of giving him the concorde. Cant they write a contract were BA can get x amount of hours of aircraft useage? Just a question.

As I said in other threads Branson could make a mint on the LHR BGI route alone.
Eagles Soar!
 
dc-10 levo
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:07 am

Great news! They should do like a share where VS and BA both chip in and help pay the running costs.

DC-10
 
vr-hkg
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:17 am

Never going to happen, this is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. Branson gets to suggest that he's "saving" a "British institution" that he has no intention of saving, and be the big hero whose airline you must support.

He knows BA would scrap the planes before they'd let him have them, and even if by some miracle they called his bluff he'd find some reason why he was unable to fly them - then paint it as BA's fault.
 
Ikarus
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 6:27 am

They could always offer him the as-yet-unmodified Concordes for GBP 1 each...  Big grin see whether he takes them... after all, they didn't get them with Kevlar either for a pound
 
fanofjets
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 7:49 am

What Branson is trying to do is to win prestige for his airline. In other words, even if Virgin loses money operating the Concorde, the plane would generate much other revenue on his 747s and A340s. In the same manner, car companies build a limited-edition sports car, which while losing money on its own adds prestige for all the carmaker's other models. It's about advertising. In Virgin's case, though, Branson's publicity is a big part of the airline's corporate identity.

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Pe@rson
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 7:59 am

This is very good for Branson because it is FREE advertising for the airline and indeed the Virgin brand itself. In addition, Concorde is a very well-respected aircraft, and one that everyone can instantly recognise. Accordingly, and in addition to many more reasons, such publicity will undoubtedly be extremely good for him and his firm.
"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
 
GDB
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:02 am

I guess that like most airlines VS must be in trouble for Branson to carry on with this nonsense, he gets away with it due to the ignorance of much of the media.
The issues are well explored here;

http://www.concordesst.com/latestnews.html

No one would like to see Concorde carry on more than I, but Branson is getting peoples hopes up when he knows full well it's all bollocks.
As if BA would give away slots, operating info etc.

What magic wand does he thinks he has that can change the fundamental problems of operating Concorde, (or any 1st class service) right now.

The AF accident did not do for Concorde, the aftermath of Sept 11th did.

Had the accident not happened, Concorde would have lasted to October, or April 2004.
The increased maint costs would have still hit us, as would the reduction in full fare loads, making a single daily service viable for a time, but not a double daily sadly.
The costs of the return to flight killed re-life 2, for beyond 2007.
Yes the BGI runs are profitable, but the market supports just one weekly flight between late November/early December to April, and during August.

The main supplier, Airbus, have made it quite clear that they would not support a single operator, and only two if they were AF and BA.
I'm not having a go at VS maintenance and operations, but they would not be up to it, yes BA staff could in theory be transferred, but what happens when large blocks of qualified Concorde people retire in the next 5 years?
As do the few left with the suppliers.

 
Pe@rson
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:03 am

Forgot to add - because people generally feel very strongly toward Concorde, any attempts for it to fly again will probably be looked upon very favourably.
"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
 
Arsenal@LHR
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:05 am

If Virgin wanted the Concordes, Branson would also have to take over and run the maintenance facilities + Concorde staff, as we know, maintaining Concorde is hugely expensive. Does VS have the money at the moment to do this? Hmmm........

If he does pull it off, the publicity and prestige for VS would be unrivalled.
In Arsene we trust!!
 
gigneil
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:09 am

Branson does have almost unlimited access to capital. If he REALLY wants to do this, don't doubt that he can.

I'm not British, but, if I were, I would want Virgin to get the planes and fly them. Sir Richard can market them like BA never could, and could probably add a few other interesting destinations.

N
 
GDB
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:21 am

Hard to think of any uses, destinations, that BA did not try in 27 years.
The only profitable routes were to and from JFK and BGI, yes charters were great, but at their peak they provided just 9% of revenue from Concorde.
The North Atlantic is not a great place to operate at the top end of the market right now, and BA, such a committed Concorde operator (who remember really got the return to flight programme off the ground in 2000/2001), see no improvement for 3 years.
 
V1-Rotate
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:13 am

GDB,
Wise words as usual.
Let's stop wetting our pants folks,it 'aint gonna happen...you ALL know it, if you really think about it.HE DOESN'T HAVE THE CASH.

His airline lost £90 mill last year (for an airline as small as VS,that is A HUGE LOSS) Most of the rest of his "companies" are treading water at best,whilst some are failing miserably.

Without BA's or AF's expertise in what is a "unique" a/c it would be like him(I read this quote elsewhere)...."running an F1 car from a backstreet garage" He is a notoriously POOR payer to all of his staff,other than to his most important henchmen(his crew are amongst the worst payed and most worked in the industry) Do you honestly think that all the Concorde engineers from BA & AF (and let's face it,they are the ONLY people who know anything about it, as it is so unique) are gonna be queing up to work for Branson on half the pay they get now? I think not.....they'll convert to other a/c.

The start up costs and upcoming maintenence requirements will cost him a fortune...a fortune he does not have!His alledged " lower cost base" does not take into any account whatsoever the running costs of an a/c like Concorde.

If by some strange quirk of fate,he could get his hands on some of them,it'll probably put him out of business within a year,and he knows it.There just aren't the amount of people around these days willing to pay the sort of prices that are required to make Concorde a profitable venture.

Fortunately,there are people behind the scenes at VS who DO make the important business decisions and let him make cheap publicity stunts and "prat about" while they get on with trying to run an airline in as much trouble as most.

I heard that Branson had recently had meetings with The Iraqi Information Minister regarding the "fine tuning" of his publicity skills in return for a seat on the board for "Comical Ali".

It just won't happen and I wish Branson would just shut that hole in his face and stop trying to con people in to thinking he can do something he has no intention of doing.
 
william
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 12:25 pm

If Branson goes the next step,and approach the UK government,then we will know he is serious.

I would not put it past Branson being able to make a profit off Concorde. He survived and has expanded despite BA dirty tricks (remember they had to pay Branson some $$$) and stiff competition.
 
DC10GUY
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 12:44 pm

In 1984 Fedex was looking at buying the Concordes for cargo service .....
Next time try the old "dirty Sanchez" She'll love it !!!
 
kramri
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:43 pm

I've heard that BA wants the Concorde retired so that a legacy ends with some sort of exclusivity. I think that as long as the birds are air worthy, and Virgin wants to make a run at operating at a profit, they should be allowed to. After all, the Concorde HAS already flown under different colors!


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cloudy
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 2:05 pm

If Branson is serious about this, my guess is he wants to run the Concord for a short time untill the media attention died down a bit. Then he would use it for charter service only, and for less and less of that as time goes on. Meanwhile, the valuable SLOTS and gates the Concord uses now would be used to expand Virgin Atlantic's conventional service.

In short, BA and Virgin are not arguing about whether the Concord should be scrapped or flown by Virgin. They are aguing over who should have control over the lucrative gate space and (especially) landing slots that are now used by the Concord.

 
GDB
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 5:13 pm

How many more times do some of you going to have to be told?
IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
That 'SIA' Concorde was BA A/C G-BOAD, BA flight crew, BA maintenance, 50% BA flight crew, operated by BA, but with SIA colours on the port side only denoting the joint BA/SIA London-Bahrain-Singapore route for a few flights in 1977, then in 1979-80, and guess what?
We could not make it work, political problems from India and Malaysia plus poor loads during a recession killed it.
These problems have not gone away, BA maintenance costs have gone up 23%, AF 72%
It will take more than a beard, casual clothes and a high PR profile to change that.
If some of you who say it could be done knew ANYTHING about operating and maintenance issues around Concorde, you would soon change your tune.
Enough already.
 
Ikarus
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 5:48 pm

If he went to the government.... and if he were successful....


How would he do it? Contrary to popular belief, Virgin Atlantic isn't swimming in cash. Neither is Branson himself at the moment, I think. When he announced interest to start up a low cost Virgin airline in America with a starting capital of $15 million, that may have been an indicator not just of how dangerous investment in America is at the moment, but how little cash reserves the Virgin empire has to spare. It's quite certain he would not even try to integrate Concorde into an existing company - he could not risk the bankruptcy of the crown jewel in his empire, the airline Virgin Atlantic, by burdening it with an expensive toy that wouldn't earn profits, all during one of the worst crises in aviation history.

So he'd have to start up an independent company, call it Virgin Supersonic PLC or something, to own and operate Concorde for Virgin Atlantic. The planes would undoubtedly fly under the Virgin Atlantic banner and all, but it'd be a lease. Probably he'd try and kick start the entire thing by some special offers (announce the minimum frequent flier miles it would take to fly on Concorde, make special offers along the lines of "book a full fare return on Concorde, get an Upper Class return to any destination free etc.), and hike up the prices quite a bit at the same time, but essentially, he'd lease the planes from himself, placing all the risk in a purpose-built subsidiary. Now if (or when) that subsidiary runs out of cash, it would go into liquidation, and Concorde services would once again end for good. He'd have squeezed 12 months of service out of it, perhaps 24 (if lucky), gotten lots of passengers to fly on VS and business pax to use their Upper Class in the hope of accumulating enough miles to fly Concorde one day, and Virgin Atlantic would come out of it with a profit, on balance. Even if Virgin Atlantic had to sacrifice a daily slot to Concorde, I doubt they can currently fill 4 daily flights to New York anyway, so they'd have freed up a plane for expansions somewhere else (eg Australia - connecting it via Dubai and LAX to LHR, effectively creating the roots of Virgin Pacific), have Concorde on one of the daily LHR slots, and by the time the market for normal travel fully recovers, Concorde services would probably have ceased anyway, due to bankruptcy of the subsidiary, and VS could resume using the sacrificed slot for their standard NewYork service.

In short, I believe Branson has good reason to want to get his hands on Concorde. I still have no hope that he'll achieve his aims, nor that he will pursue them seriously (he'll just continue making token offers that are ridiculously unaffordable to BA, like including slots & lounges in a 1 pound deal), but I think there is a business case here - even if only a case assuming an independent subsidiary with the eventual demise a firm plan of the concept. The main benefactor of it all would be the airline Virgin Atlantic, because they would get the prestige of Concorde without getting the costs or risks associated with it.

Anyway, time to stop dreaming around... Now back to saving money to try and get on one of AF's tour flights....
 
777236ER
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RE: Branson To Fight For Concorde!

Fri Apr 18, 2003 9:30 pm

It's not a question of how Branson will do it, this is a publicity stunt. Do people not understand this? Talk of buying the Concordes for £1 is insane. Whatever the politics behind it, BA still own the Concordes!! If for some bizarre reason BA did sell them the Concordes for £1, they'd also have to sell him the technical knowledge they have, slots and maintence facilities! All for £1?

Branson would also have to bribe Airbus into supporting the aircraft. I guess £1 (€1?) would do that too?

Assume he has the Concordes, the maintence facilites, the technical knowledge, the support from Airbus, the slots, permission from BAA and the FAA to fly them into their airports and permission from the CAA to fly the aircraft, he'd then somehow have to make them profitable. While BA is a good airline, they're not stupid. They're stopping Concorde operations simply because they don't make money any more. Why does Branson think he'll make money on the aircraft?

He's not likely to atract any more customers. The big corporate clients have contracts with BA. The lone too-rich fliers would have flown the BA Concorde. Virgin isn't an amazing wonder airline. They fly to only the most profitable destination (as if they're the fucking flag carrier) yet STILL manage to lose £90 million last year!

BA should call his bluff. Offer him the Concordes the price they're actually worth, and sell him the maintence facilites, slots and technical knowledge for their market value.
Your bone's got a little machine