This morning, an Air France Concorde departed from Kennedy Airport in New York for the last time.
As the first supersonic commerical aircraft, the Concorde has been a symbol of status and technological advancement for over a quarter century. But the high cost associated with maintainting the aging fleet and the reduced demand for seats — costing up to $7000 each way — seem to have signaled the end for 3 1/2 hour intercontinental flights. As the economic downturn continues, companies have increasingly decided to cut their losses on ego boosting but money losing operations (see also: media companies dumping sports franchises).
British Air plans to retire their Concordes later this year, as well. Both airlines have mentioned donating their planes to museums. However, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Air, would like to purchase ther planes and keep them flying.
I imagine Air France and British Air viewing an upstart airline flying the majestic Concorde as an incredible hit to their corporate egos, but I hope that Branson can keep the Concorde alive.