French Concorde flies into history

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The Independent Online

Flying into blue skies and its place in history, Concorde left Paris on its last outward flight for Air France yesterday.

The droop-nosed supersonic aircraft took off from Charles de Gaulle airport at 8.38am and landed in New York three hours and 40 minutes later. Today it will make its last commercial flight for the company when it returns from America and flies into retirement.

Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, an Air France staff member, said: "It's very emotional. Concorde is a story of joy, of emotion, of technical prowess." The last flight departed with 58 passengers and 11 crew. Concorde first flew in 1969.

Air France and British Airways, the only carriers to operate the aircraft, are retiring their Concorde fleets. The final British Airways flights are scheduled for October.

Concorde's demise has been hastened by a crash minutes after take-off from Paris in July 2000, in which 113 people were killed. Air France and BA also said falling demand for seats on the luxury aircraft after the 11 September attacks meant it was too expensive to run.(AP)