For most of Concorde's service with BA
at least, they were highly profitable, and yes they did pay for the aircraft, some 30% more expensive than a 747 at the time they were built.
have been private for 16 years, they would not have operated Concorde if it had not been profitable.
And when some Concorde services afterwards became unprofitable, like the IAD
services in the early 1990's, they were dropped, so forget any ideas about it being all about prestige.
In fact, the process of privatisation was the making of BA
Concorde, an operating subsidy which was all about the incompetent BA
management of the 1970's covering their backsides, was rescinded in 1983-4, as part of this BA
had to pay 80% of any Concorde profit to the government.
took the plunge, paying a hefty fee to get out of that, as well as buying up much of the spares stock, the simulator and the 1st UK production aircraft as a spares source.
After that, BA
were free to operate the aircraft as they wished, and keep all the profits, the highly profitable BGI
service and an extensive charter programme were the results, as well as returning a stored aircraft to flight and doing the first of several major cabin upgrades.
However, at their peak, charters only made some 9% of profits, but useful in itself, and why not have such great advertising for BA
Charters also allowed many people the chance to fly on it who otherwise would not.
However, Concorde needed the right routes, a long over-water sector between two major business locations, in other words, London and New York, which was the core of the profitability, on a double daily service.
Forget all the talk of it being a celeb service, 80% of this services pax were regular business pax, how else could you leave LHR
at 10:30 am, and get into JFK
at 09:20 am, ready to do business?
For that reason, the LHR
were generally a bit busier than JFK
In 1997/98, the LHR
Concorde services carried only 7% of BA
pax on that route, but made 30% of the revenue for BA
services, Concorde carried 43% of BA
pax when the winter Concorde service was operating, but made 75% of the revenue.
Around this time, Concorde made a profit of £30 million per year, that's only from direct Concorde pax, not counting all those pax encouraged to keep flying on BA
premium services by frequent Concorde upgrades.
In fact, Concorde revenues were judged with greater rigour than other services.
However, the 2000/2001 suspension, the return to flight mods and worst of all re-launching just after Sept 11th made things difficult.
But, loads were generally good, however BA
were afraid to commit to a double daily service, no doubt fearful of bad PR
if it was not profitable in this new business environment and had to be scaled back again.
The result was an operating profit, but not enough to fund upcoming maintenance, as well as additional stuff like the aforementioned cockpit doors, no Federal-style help for BA
for stuff like this.
do not get the aid seen in the US or some EU nations since 2001.
bailed out for a variety of reasons, making the BA
operation unsustainable as they now would have to carry the whole support burden themselves.
I suspect BA
now regret not returning OAA and OAB to flight, as apart from the difficulty of placing them in museums, BA
cannot now expand services to take account of the huge demand, last week Concorde made £5 million for BA
, that's tickets only, not counting the extra £5000 per flight in onboard sales.
To be honest, BA
took their eye off the Concorde ball somewhat, not showing the boldness of the past, understandable perhaps as the whole airline struggled to survive in late 2001 and early 2002.
The general weakness of the whole airline market, and it not improving, was a blow to Concorde planning.
It was always the case that when costs exceeded revenues, that would be the end, a variety of events in the past few years have brought that forward, most annoyingly for BA
these were all beyond their control, the 2001 relaunch was intended to move back to a full scheduled service by mid/late 2002, charters would have been scaled right back as they used up airframe life out of proportion to the revenues.
Had the accident and/or Sept 11th not happened, most of the fleet reaching 24,000 hrs requiring major maintenance in around 2004/6 would have been a challenge, as experience eroded by retirements as well as the costs, in this case BA
would have either proceeded with this work taking the fleet to 2009/10 or retired when AF
always said they would, in 2006/7.
would have hoped that AF
would have carried on after that had BA
chosen the former, they would have needed them to really to make maintenance viable, AF
had lower utilization (the oldest AF
Concorde had slighly less hours than BA
's youngest), but in the past AF
had usually gone along with maintenance planning by BA
, as of course they needed BA
Concorde to be flying for their own fleets viability.
With the market not improving as rapidly as planned, BA
had considered a late 2004 retirement, though nothing was decided before AF
dropped their bombshell early this year, then BA
had to fight hard to keep support going to late October, they pressed for early 2004, to allow for the next winter BGI
season, for which seats were already selling, as well as making use of spares just brought for upcoming heavy maintenance on OAD and OAF.
But Airbus played hardball, they would have much preferred for BA
to retire when AF