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Virgin wants Concorde, for £1 10/04/2003 18:51 – (SA)

London – Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson said on Thursday his airline was interested in buying British Airways’ doomed Concorde fleet, but would offer just £1 (€1.5, $1.6).

Branson, the king of publicity stunts, said in a statement he would be asking BA for the full operation figures for its fleet of seven Concorde.

“Since the British Airways’ announcement this morning we have been flooded with calls from the public, including BA staff, asking us to see if we can keep Concorde flying,” said Branson.

“When the Conservative government gave British Airways Concorde for £1 they said that if another British company ever wanted to operate it they could.

“If having examined the figures Virgin Atlantic, with its lower cost base, believes it can make a success of it we will be asking British Airways to give us the planes for the same price that they were given them for (£1) together with the slots and other facilities that they use.

“This might come to nothing but I believe that every effort should be made to keep Concorde flying as it is such an important symbol of British innovation,” he added.

Air France and British Airways said on Thursday Concorde would stop flying by the end of October at the latest after more than quarter of a century as a transatlantic shuttle for the rich and privileged.

The cost of developing the supersonic passenger jet were borne by the British and French governments and only BA and Air France – at the time both state-run – opted to buy the hugely expensive aircraft.

BA indicated that it wanted to see its Concordes put on display to the public rather than going to rival carriers.

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