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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.