Fruitbat, glad you enjoyed your time in Concorde Tech, I was there from 1997 to the end, we must know a lot of the same people.
The airlines did indeed maintain their respective fleets, BA
, with it's higher utilisation after 1982, had most 'issues' hit them first due to this.
(The first AF
rudder de-lam was in early 2003, so that was around the time their fleet averaged the BA
levels from 1989/90.)
This also meant that big ticket items like the first (and last as it turned out), Re-life effort of the mid 1990's, was a BA
show, heavily supported by major vendors like BAe and Aerospatiale-as they were then.
We did indeed have fluctuating pax numbers in early 03, though very few BA
ones went out nearly empty, but that was not the point, the fact of a massive draw-down in major customers buying annual travel from BA
, was the issue.
These were largely in the premium area, that is why at the same time, BA
dropped 1st class from half a dozen routes, you can live with that with a conventional airliner, not with the all first class Concorde.
Charters could not bridge this gap, since even at their (BA) peak-a few hundred a year, they only made up around 9-10% of revenue.
could have rode this out, and planned to do so, (the BA001 re-timing from April 03, planned the previous October), but then an extra $40 million in engineering costs over the next two years came out of the blue.
Most of it was not even totally Concorde related, just aging aircraft in general.
Add the costs of things like the FAA mandated secure cockpit doors, which unlike many airlines, BA
had to pay for themselves. On a subsonic, the procurement and installation of each door cost around £30,000, each Concorde was more like $250,000 per airframe.
This disparity with procurement and general costs, between Concorde and the rest, was typical.
Even then, if AF
wanted out (which they did), then BA
's Concorde would be sunk too, since BA
would then have to shoulder the whole costs, not share with AF
Airbus were obliged to provide support if at least two airframes were flying.
Irrelevant if both airlines (or anyone else if such a thing would be allowed by the CAA-which it would not be), could not make money on Concorde.
So I don't blame Airbus either, they had to provide that extra package of work-mandated by the airworthiness authorities in conjunction with Airbus.
If you really have blame anyone, go with Bin Laden, Sept 11th derailed BA
's planned re-launch, in terms of rate of aircraft return and getting to a full (twice daily each way), London-New York service, vital to sustain BA
Concorde in the medium term.
Well, after that event, BA
could not see a time when they could reasonably operate these extra BA003/BA004's in the foreseeable future.
But remember, we are talking about the late 2003 retirement, compared to the likely (had things been different), 2005-2007 period.
Talk about 2009 onwards, only was about airframe, not all the other issues, like avionics/systems, the sheer increasing costs and length in work as time goes on for routine work as well as what the market was doing.