Air of calm resignation as BA suspends its supersonic flights

At Heathrow
Click to follow
The Independent Online

An air of calm resignation filled the British Airways' Concorde Lounge when passengers were told Flight BA003 to JFK airport in New York was cancelled. The news was broken to passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 shortly after 6pm - but many other passengers decided long before that not to turn up.

An air of calm resignation filled the British Airways' Concorde Lounge when passengers were told Flight BA003 to JFK airport in New York was cancelled. The news was broken to passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 shortly after 6pm - but many other passengers decided long before that not to turn up.

According to one passenger leaving the lounge, members of staff told him that 90 people had cancelled after hearing of the crash outside Charles de Gaulle Airport. "They told us the flight was full," said an advertising executive, who asked not to be named. "About 90 people rang ahead and said they were not going to turn up. Obviously, a lot of people were shaken up.

"I had second thoughts myself. They told us about the cracks in the wings last week, then this morning I heard about the plague of killer mosquitoes in New York, and now this. This is God's way of telling me not to get on that plane."

Passengers were given the choice of flying on another day or taking a later flight, thought to be aboard a Boeing 777, two hours later.

Not everybody chose the replacement flight. A computer executive, who asked not to be named, said she had told her employers she planned to fly a day later instead. "I just don't want to get another flight yet, after what has happened," she said. "My employers have been fine about it. I just think it's tragic what happened to those poor people in Paris."

Inside the lounge, opposite Gate 10 on the first floor, the mood was calm. Concorde passengers who chose to take the later flight, were offered champagne and snacks while they waited amid the potted palms on the lounge's blue-and-grey carpet.

"I think BA have behaved magnificently," said the advertising executive. "They broke the news calmly and everybody took it calmly and they have done everything they can to accommodate us and find alternative flights."

But Russian advertising executive Dimitri Kuroskov was annoyed that he would missing his business meeting in New York. Mr Kuroskov, 32, from Moscow, who was transferred on to a Boeing 747, said: "Concorde is double safe. What happens is going to happen.

"I'm going to miss my meeting, but I will sleep well on the 747. Waiting for board was very psychologically suspenseful."

BA was deciding last night whether to cancel its four Concorde services between Heathrow and New York today.

The first service, BA001, is due to leave London at 10.30am with a second New York-bound service, BA003, scheduled to leave at 7pm. Two Concordes are due to leave New York's JFK airport bound for Heathrow, the BA002 arriving at 5.25pm UK time and the BA004 due in at 10.25pm.

Hacan ClearSkies, a group representing people living under the Heathrow flight path, welcomed yesterday's suspen-sion of flights because, it said, they put the lives of people on the ground at risk.

Comments