Plus de Concorde

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Both Air France and British Airways will retire the SST this year, ending the era of 3-hour, $9,300-roundtrip transatlantic passenger flights, and the career of a pretty cool-looking plane. I was going to say the seventies are now officially over, but in fact the Concorde was first proposed in 1956 and was based on a spec written in 1962. Here's a brief history of this supersonic but ultimately time-consuming misstep for commercial aviation.

*Update: The great Richard Branson, whose fight to establish Virgin Atlantic did more to reveal the public/private nature of ostensibly market-driven monopolies than any other event I can think of, says he wants to buy up the Concorde fleet for the same nominal pound BA initially paid the government:

"When the Conservative government gave British Airways Concorde for ?1 they said that if another British company ever wanted to operate it they could.

"If having examined the figures Virgin Atlantic, with its lower cost base, believes it can make a success of it we will be asking British Airways to give us the planes for the same price that they were given them for (?1) together with the slots and other facilities that they use."

NEXT: Ozymandias Redux

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  1. I was in the UK a few years ago when the Rover car company was being shopped for, I think, 10 pounds. Problem was, you had to buy the debt, too. I think somebody finally took it over but don’t know the details.

  2. Tim, my French may be a little rusty, but shouldn’t that be Pas de Concorde?

  3. Close, but no cigar, Casey. Considering Virgin Atlantic’s hopes, it’s “Plus”. (Tim knows what he’s doing.)

  4. does this mean that we’ll have to read more conspiracy theories that boeing or the cia crashed the concorde, too?

    oh jeez (right, Lefty?)

    drf

  5. I’ll offer 3 pounds. BTW, Rover group was bought by some industrial conglomerate that has never made cars. Not sure what they’re up to these days. However part of the reason for the low price was all the good bits got bought up by others. Ford owns Land Rover, and BMW kept the Cooper Mini, which is selling well.

    Other odd things: VW bought Rolls-Royce/Bently but forgot to purchase the rights to the name Rolls-Royce. BMW bought the name and as a result had to build a whole new assembly plant in England for the new Phaeton. Only Bentlys are actually built on the old Rolls assembly line. Apparently if a company is in bad enough shape, it can be treated as a smorgasbord by those who line up to dine on the corpse. I’m just waiting for Honda or Toyota to buy Ford (OK that won’t happen since the Ford family has controlling interest, but that may be the only thing that’s stopped it so far!)

  6. Jim,

    Those commercials with Henry Ford XVI are so patronizing.

  7. Ah, I see. I noticed the remark about buying the planes for a pound, but I didn’t realize it was a serious offer. 🙂

    “Tell you what, I’ll double my offer: two pounds, and that’s cutting my own throat!”

  8. Thats going to be the fate of space shuttle tourism… Jest you wait…

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    IP: 195.94.1.122
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    What else can i say after all this ?!

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