Air Transport World

Air France Concorde a valuable symbol. (The Concorde at 10)

Paris--Air France's Concorde fleet it alive and well, and making money--an operating profit of 63.4 million francs in 1984 and 31.3 million francs in 1983. Preliminary figures indicate a substantial profit in 1985 as well.

The Concorde has a loyal clientel. Nearly half of its passengers--46%--fly the supersonic airliner at least three times a year, and 25% at least eight. And this at a roundtrip fare of over 26,000 francs (approximately U.S.$4,300), about 17% higher than the roundtrip first-class fare.

In 1984 the Concorde carried 45,054 passengers on the Paris-New York route--the aircraft's only scheduled route at present--plus another 3,658 on charter flights. In the first nine months of 1985 the Paris-New York total was 33,286. In the 10 years since entering scheduled service on January 21, 1976, the Air France Concorde fleet has carried more than 600,000 passengers and chalked up close to 47,000 flight hours.

The current financial success of Air France's Concorde is a welcome enhancement of its technological success. This pioneering venture into commercial supersonic flight spotlighted the capabilities of the French and British airframe and engine mkers who jointly developed the aircraft. It foreshadowed the trans-national European cooperation that has produced the Airbus series to challenge U.S. domination of the airline business.

Two operators

Ten years of Concorde operation by Air France and British Airwys have proved out the reliability of the fly-by-wire controls and the high-temperature alloys, window glass, microswitches and other components designed to withstand the stresses and heat created by supersonic flight. And the ruboff on the thousand or so subcontractors who participated in the project has been considerable. Unfortunately for the prime manufacturers, the SST's technological success has not been matched on the financial side. …

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