Today’s news:

Virgin Atlantic considers taking over Concorde flights

A recent announcement by the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic Airlines could herald the return of Concorde flights above the skies in southeast Queens.

In London, Sir Richard Branson said May 7 he was requesting the operating records of the supersonic jet from British Airways, which plans to ground its fleet of Concorde planes for economic reasons in October.

The CEO said if the records show Virgin Atlantic can successfully operate the supersonic jet, he would ask British Airways to give Virgin Atlantic the supersonic planes for the same price that they were given them — £1.

Air France, the only other airline to operate Concorde jets, also will ground its fleet.

“A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. A Concorde by any name would still stink,” said U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), who has voiced repeated opposition to the aircraft. “The Concorde is old, noisy and wasteful. The day it stops flying will be a good day for us all.”

Weiner and residents of Howard Beach, the community underneath the flight path of the supersonic jet to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport, were elated when British Airways and Air France said they would stop flying the plane.

Howard Beach residents had complained for 20 years about the noise caused by the plane as it flew only hundreds of feet above their houses. Executives at BA and Air France said the planes were not making money and were too costly to operate in light of the airline industry’s recent slump in revenues.

Members of the British government said in response to Branson’s statement they would not play a role in any transfer of the planes from British Airways to Virgin Atlantic. One minister did, however, say the government would be interested in looking at any offers Branson made on behalf of his airline.

“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,” Branson said.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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