Boom Goes Bust

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The last chance for most of us to break the sound barrier (at least voluntarily) will be sometime in October. That's when British Airways will stop flying Concorde from London to New York. Air France will stop its Paris-to-New York service May 31. As AVweb reported earlier, rumors of the demise of Concorde began surfacing shortly after an Air France flight was diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia in February. Both airlines announced the end of the supersonic era Thursday and cited the same reasons, but theirs were not the only words spent on the subject. (more) "Recently, we were filling only about 20 percent of the seats," Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta told a news conference. Even at up to $10,000 a ticket, the crippling maintenance and fuel costs were making the service untenable. The 12 aircraft, built in the late 1960s and early 1970s by a French-English consortium that grew into Airbus Industries, will be donated to museums. Industry analysts, perhaps myopically, say it's unlikely a replacement for Concorde will ever be built because efficiency is the most important factor to airlines these days. And while BA's CEO said the demise of Concorde means "we must lose some of the romance from aviation," at least one group was cheering the decision. Friends of the Earth said the Concorde spews five times as much pollution as regular airliners and, because it flies higher, puts more pollutants in the upper atmosphere where they have a bigger contribution to global warming. "Concorde is a massive polluter," said Roger Higman, the group's transportation campaigner. "It's a dinosaur that rightly belongs in a museum."