At JFK, the Air France desk was deserted

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The Independent Online

At Terminal 1, the brand new facility used by Air France and a handful of other international airlines at JFK Airport, all indication of the doomed incoming Concorde flight had been erased. There was no mention of it on the hi-tech indicator boards. The main Air France desk at the upper departures level had a sign up - "Closed - fermé". It was deserted.

At Terminal 1, the brand new facility used by Air France and a handful of other international airlines at JFK Airport, all indication of the doomed incoming Concorde flight had been erased. There was no mention of it on the hi-tech indicator boards. The main Air France desk at the upper departures level had a sign up - "Closed - fermé". It was deserted.

Evidence that something was terribly wrong was limited to the large number of police and emergency vehicles, parked where limousines would normally be.

The main concern of the police and airport officials was keeping the ever-growing crowd of reporters from entering the building.

The chartered Concorde flight had been due to arrive here at 2.21pm and pull into Gate No. 1, the normal berth for the Air France Concorde in New York.

From JFK, the group of German tourists would have boarded waiting buses for the short journey to Manhattan harbour where they were to have spent two nights aboard a cruise liner, MS Deutschland. All of them customers of a German package tours company, Peter Deilmann Cruises, they were then scheduled to leave New York on 27 July for an extensive Caribbean cruise.

Air France in New York said that it had set up psychological counselling facilities in the upper level of Terminal 1. However, it was expected that these would be on offer mainly to Air France crew members and other airline employees.

Because the package tourists were travelling to the United States on holiday, leaving friends and relatives back in Germany, there were no scenes of grieving relatives, as witnessed after recent air tragedies in the New York region, including the 1996 crash of TWA 800 and last year's crash of an Egypt Air aircraft off the coast of Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, a single Air France Concorde remained stationary on the tarmac at JFK Airport yesterday afternoon, its planned departure for Paris apparently delayed indefinitely.

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