Future Uncertain For BA Concorde
British Airways (BA) is considering grounding its sleek supersonic Concordes, it was widely reported last week. "We're looking at when Concorde should retire," a BA spokesman told the Daily Telegraph. Sales for seats aboard the flagship of trans-Atlantic travel have suffered from a poor economy, changing travel trends and some highly publicized problems. BA, concerned about loss of revenues in the event of a Iraq war, could make a decision by the end of the year. So far Air France, the only other airline to fly the Concorde, has spoken of no such plans. The aircraft were profitable until a fiery Paris crash in 2000 killed 113 people. That accident was followed by a yearlong grounding. By the time the jets were flying again, the economy was slumping, and passenger loads never recovered. Besides economic issues, some of the aircraft have encountered mechanical glitches. In recent weeks, an Air France Concorde lost part of its rudder in flight, and the same plane, registered F-BVFA, had made an unscheduled landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a week earlier with engine trouble. If BA cancels the Concorde, Virgin Atlantic has expressed an interest in acquiring the jets. The Concorde's safety approval expires in 2009.