Full British Airways Press Release - 10/4/03
London April 10, 2003: British Airways announced today the retirement of its Concorde fleet of seven aircraft with effect from the end of October 2003.
The airline said that its decision had been made for commercial reasons with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft.
Detailed discussions over an extended period with Airbus, the aircraft’s manufacturer, confirmed the need for an enhanced maintenance programme in the coming years, the carrier added.
British Airways has decided that such an investment cannot be justified in the face of falling revenue caused by a global downturn in demand for all forms of premium travel in the airline industry.
The downturn has had a negative impact on Concorde bookings and is set to continue for the foreseeable future, according to the airline.
Rod Eddington, British Airways’ chief executive, said: "Concorde has served us well and we are extremely proud to have flown this marvellous and unique aircraft for the past 27 years.
" This is the end of a fantastic era in world aviation but bringing forward Concorde’s retirement is a prudent business decision at a time when we are having to make difficult decisions right across the airline."
Noel Forgeard, president and chief executive officer of Airbus, said: "Airbus’ predecessors Aerospatiale and British Aircraft Corporation created Concorde some 40 years ago and we are proud of this remarkable achievement.
" But its maintenance regime is increasing fast with age. Thus, as an aircraft manufacturer, we understand completely and respect the decision of British Airways, especially in the present economic climate.
" It goes without saying that until the completion of the very last flight, we will continue to support the airline so that the highest standards of maintenance and safety are entirely fulfilled."
Mr Eddington added that today's announcement is not a direct result of war in Iraq.
He said: "While the threat of war and resulting military conflict have had a further impact on premium travel demand, the decision to retire Concorde has been based on a long-term revenue and cost trend rather than recent events.
" I would like to place publicly on record my sincere thanks and appreciation to all our staff, past and present, who have made the Concorde story one of the most compelling in the history of commercial flight.
" Our pride in the aircraft will never wane and I am determined that we make its final six months in the sky a time for celebration."
Retiring Concorde will result in £84m write-off costs for the year ended March 2003.
The airline is already planning to make its Concordes available for the public to view in museums.
To honour the past 30 years of supersonic travel, British Airways will announce shortly a programme of special events and promotions for air travellers.
For the next few months, British Airways will continue to operate its Concorde services between London Heathrow and New York JFK and seasonal services to Barbados.
Full Air France Press Release - 10/4/03
Roissy, 10 April 2003 :Air France does not intend to continue operating its Concorde fleet after 31 October 2003, the last day of its summer schedule.
The poor economic performance of the transatlantic route operated with Concorde over the last few months and especially since the beginning of the year is behind this decision. This drop in demand comes at a time when the Company has to bear maintenance costs which have substantially increased since Concorde returned to service on 7 November 2001.
The decision taken by Air France is therefore based on structural reasons related to a widening gap between costs and revenue. It was taken in close conjunction with the manufacturer Airbus: " The Airbus' predecessors Aerospatiale and British Aircraft Corporation have created the Concorde some 40 years ago and we are proud of this remarkable achievement. But its maintenance regime is increasing fast with age ," said Noël Forgeard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus. " Thus, as an aircraft manufacturer, we completely understand and respect the decision of Air France and British Airways, especially in the present economic climate. It goes without saying that, until the completion of the very last flight, we will continue to support the operators so that the highest standards of maintenance and safety are entirely fulfilled ."
" Air France deeply regrets having to make the decision to stop its Concorde operations, but it has become a necessity ", declared Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta. " The worsening economic situation in the last few months has led to a decline in business traffic, which particularly weighs on Concorde's results. Maintenance costs have substantially increased since its return to service. Operating Concorde has become a severely and structurally loss-making operation. In these circumstances, it would be unreasonable to continue operating it any longer ."
" In announcing this decision " he added " my first thoughts immediately go to the Air France crews and maintenance teams who spared no effort to get the Concorde back in the air after the accident on July 25, 2000. Its return to service was an exemplary technical feat, and I well imagine their sadness today. We shall never forget this aircraft, just as we will never forget those who, by contributing to the Concorde service for almost three decades, enabled Air France to write one of the finest pages in the history of aviation. Today, however, it is essential for any business to preserve a healthy financial situation ."
As far as Air France is concerned, and in view of the current economic situation which is having a highly adverse effect on the demand for Concorde, the Company will be suspending its supersonic flights as from May 31, 2003.