Take it from someone who was there, this 'terrorist target' and 'Airbus wouldn't support it any more' is just not the case.
Doubtless there are any number of other theories that go beyond official statements, but they are all bunk.
The truth is more mundane, as usual.
accident clearly shook AF
, for BA
it meant effectively losing a years service, some £30 million, add to that the £17 million for return to flight mods.
But the return to flight programme was successful, more so than many expected, cost a lot less than many pundits were predicting too.
But 6 days after the mods were finally approved, after successful testing on G-BOAF
in July 2001, 11th Sept happened.
That, not the accident, was the real killer, as least in BA
had worked hard to keep Concorde regular pax in the loop, in March 2001, 100 of the top customers were even invited to the BA
hangars to see the mods being worked, to check out the new seats (a temp fit in the fwd cabin of G-BOAE), have a talk with Chief Concorde pilot Mike Bannister.
This led BA
to think that 95% of regular pax would return, those we spoke to that day were certainly keen.
The massive, unprecedented slump following the attacks did not stop the reintroducing to service on 7th November 2001, but it became clear in the year that followed, that First Class travel had taken a huge knock.
But on BA
at least, loads were pretty good in the latter half of 2002, but the slump meant BA
were only doing 1 flight each day and back to JFK
, so overall, BA
were earning half what they were before, but costs were not halved, they were increasing.
Various pieces of new leglislation, about aging aircraft, (much not Concorde specific, plenty however was TWA800 fallout), along with the usual issues of running a tiny, specialized fleet, meant that for BA
, in the two years following 2003, costs would rise by £40 million.
had very sharply decreasing loads in early 2003, BA
too to a much lessor extent, AF
were losing a lot of money, for them it was a clear choice, end Concorde operations soon, some technical issues they suffered only hastened this.
Which meant BA
would soon be bearing the whole costs of Concorde, this situation, at any time in Concorde's history at BA
, would be the end, even if it had happened in the highly profitable period from the mid 80's to 2000, then maybe BA
would have run it on their own for a year, 18 months maybe, but the effective doubling of support costs would be terminal, at any time.
In the far more difficult situation of 2003, it was more terminal, more quickly.
Concorde also suffered in that most of the regular users were writing Concorde out of their contracts from 2003, not only Concorde, why else do you think BA
terminated 1st class on six routes in this period?
overall had a massive drop in premium travel, as premium contracts were renewned in 2002/3, or not in most cases.
In time, maybe this market would have recovered, but in 2003, BA
did not have that time, not while carrying the whole support burden once AF
Forget charters, (at best they provided 9% of Concorde revenue), BGI
was good, but you cannot run Concorde profitably on one, or at most two, services per week.
It was the core business market on the JFK
route, for the most part twice daily, that was BA
Concordes lifeblood for years.
Undermine that, there is only one way to go.
Airbus would support Concorde, for BA
, but at a price that was reasonable to them, they of course had to incorporate new airworthiness requirements, operational experience etc, into maintenance planning, then name the price.
Had the AF
accident not happened, I am convinced, from what I saw day in day out for a couple of years, that Concorde would almost certainly have finished this year, probably at the end of the recently finished winter season.
That's the truth of it, anything else is just ill informed speculation.
Some airlines, some airliners, have been a victim of Sept 11th, so why is it so hard for some not to accept that Concorde was one of them?