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Concorde to lift off in November

PARIS, France (CNN) -- Air France and British Airways say they will resume Concorde services on November 7, 15 months after the supersonic jet was grounded by a deadly crash.

The French airline stopped operating its Concorde fleet after a crash in the Paris suburb of Gonesse on July 25, 2000, that killed 109 people on the plane and four on the ground. British authorities followed suit weeks later.

British and French authorities had cleared the way for Concorde to resume commercial service after approving modifications to the world's only civilian supersonic airliner.

Rod Eddington, British Airways chief executive, said: "We are delighted to be returning Concorde to the skies and back into New York.

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Key safety modifications
-Installation of Kevlar-rubber fuel tank liners. These are designed to minimise fuel leaks in event of wing-skin being punctured
-Use of newly developed Michelin Near Zero Growth tyres on all eight main wheels. These are tougher and more resistant to damage
-Electrical wiring in the plane's undercarriage bay will have armour-plated insulation

"We hope Concorde's return will play a major part in rebuilding confidence in New York and demonstrating that it is business as usual between the UK and the U.S.. We have received tremendous support from our regular business customers over the last year and we look forward to carrying them supersonically across the Atlantic once more.

Air France said in a statement: "On November 7, the Air France Concorde will once again be back in the skies." It said the Concorde's return to service between Paris and New York was a reflection of the airline's confidence in the future of the aviation industry, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"Concorde's return to New York is symbolic of Air France's tribute to the people of this city, to their strength and their strong resolve to rebuild," said Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman of Air France.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, welcomed the announcement, saying: "Concorde's return is symbolic of how all New Yorkers feel about rebuilding this great city. I am personally proud to welcome Concorde back to New York."

Air France had already said that its Concordes would fly in November, but it set no date.

Investigators say a stray strip of metal on the runway punctured one of the doomed Air France plane's high-pressure tyres before last year's crash, blowing a hole in a fuel tank and starting a fire.

Among the changes demanded by the French and British aviation authorities were the strengthening of underwing fuel tanks, the use of stronger tyres and modification to undercarriage wiring.

Air France bookings opened immediately after the announcement in Paris and reservations will be open for British Airways Concorde flights on Tuesday from 9.00 a.m. London time (0800 GMT).

The new Air France schedule comprises a departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport at 10:30 a.m. (replacing the previous departure at 11 a.m.), and arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 8:25 a.m. local time.

On departure from New York to Paris, the Concorde will take off at 8 a.m., arriving at Paris-CDG at 5:45 p.m. Air France said the changes to the flight times offered more connections.

British Airways will begin operations with an initial six times a week service between London Heathrow and New York JFK.

Flight BA001 will depart six times each week from London Heathrow at 10:30 a.m. local time and arrive in New York at 9:25 a.m. local time.

The return flight, BA002, will depart New York at 12:15 p.m. local time and arrive at Heathrow at 9:10 p.m. Flights to and from New York will operate every day except Saturday.

From 1st December until 13th April 2002, BA will operate a once a week scheduled Barbados service from Heathrow, departing Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and arriving in Barbados at 9:45 a.m.

The return will depart Barbados on Saturdays at 11:45 a.m. and arrive at Heathrow at 8:00 p.m. London time.

British Airways has seven Concordes. Air France, the only other company to operate the delta-winged jet, has a fleet of five jets.



 
 
 
 


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• Civil Aviation Authority
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