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Concorde's final days were as protracted as her launch was delayed. Flights during the final six months were fully booked, with only full-fare tickets available in the last month. The UK national press was swamped with letters from indignant travellers calling for the supersonic plane to be kept in the air, and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson offered himself as her saviour, only to be rebuffed by both Concorde's operators and manufacturer Airbus. When the plane's nose, previously thought of as little more than scrap, was eventually auctioned for 320,000 [pounds sterling] ($588,165), it seemed a piece of national heritage had been sold off (the French reaction was, characteristically, more restrained).
Yet eight months later, one question remains--where have all the Concorde flyers gone? Both the famous Concorde clientele (including Sir David Frost, Sir Paul McCartney and Sting) and the more unknown, but well-heeled, passengers must still be flying, so who are they flying with? Depending on who you ask, you'll get many different answers.
It's hard to imagine today, but Concorde was originally ordered by 19 airlines, including Air Canada, China's CAAC, Middle East Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa, Pan Am and Belgium's Sabena. In the end, however, only two airlines, British Airways and Air France, eventually bought the supersonic craft.
Talk to British Airways, the largest and most successful operator of the 100-seat Concorde, and it will tell you it has retained its passengers.
"They're now booking first class seats on our subsonic flights, hut some have opted for business class as passengers originally chose Concorde for speed rather than luxury."
Unsurprisingly, Air France, Concorde's second operator, says …