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 No‘l 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.