Last Concorde carrying paying passengers lands in New York

British Airways’ last Concorde flight for fare-paying passengers landed in New York, marking a bitter-sweet end to a great chapter in aviation history.

British Airways’ last Concorde flight for fare-paying passengers landed in New York, marking a bitter-sweet end to a great chapter in aviation history.

Most passengers who walked off the plane at John F Kennedy International Airport late last night described the flight as wonderful.

“I feel like we are kind of taking a step backward technologically today,” said Dennis Toeppen, 39, a freelance pilot from Champaign, Illinois. “It’s kind of like a railroad that has been torn up to make a carriage path.”

For David Winslow, 42, an airline executive from London, the £4,000 (€5,737) one-way ticket for the flight was worth it.

“It’s very sad really,” he said. “It’s historical, and that’s why I did it. Money was no object.”

The London-New York flight was full, and today’s final transatlantic return was expected to be as well. Today’s passengers, however, will be invited guests of the airline, including actress Joan Collins and Concorde frequent flier David Frost.

Thousands of planespotters were expected to gather near Heathrow Airport to watch the near-simultaneous landing of the New York flight and two other Concordes – one carrying competition winners from Edinburgh, the other taking guests on a circular flight from Heathrow over the Bay of Biscay.

With that, the era of supersonic commercial flight will be over, at least for now.

British Airways chairman Lord Marshall said Concorde’s final day would bring mixed emotions.

“Everyone has enormous pride in all that she has achieved, but there is inevitable sadness that we have to move on and say farewell,” he said. “The decision to retire Concorde was a tough one, but it is the right thing to do at the right time.”

British Airways’ announcement last April that it was retiring its seven Concordes spurred an outpouring of affection for the sleek needle-nosed jet.

The Anglo-French Concorde, which began commercial service in January 1976, was a technological marvel and the ultimate symbol of jet-set glamour. It flew up to 11 miles above the Earth at up to 1,350 mph, crossing the Atlantic in about three and a half hours. With the five-hour time difference, passengers arrived in New York earlier than they had left London.

But it was ultimately a financial dud. The British and French governments hoped to sell hundreds of Concordes around the world, but in the end only 16 were built. All went to BA and Air France, which grounded its fleet for good in May.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.228 s