In the Concorde story you always hear about British Airways and Air France who were the two main operators of the aircraft. Singapore Airlines also operated Concorde.
It is a small part of the aircraft’s history but an interesting one. I think it looks amazing in Singapore Airlines livery as well, I just wish there were more pictures of it.
Singapore Airlines Concorde
Concorde services at British Airways were originally supposed to go to Australia, routing London-Bahrain-Singapore-Sydney. This is probably why the first scheduled service went to Bahrain as it is on the way.
The continuation to Singapore started on 9 December 1977 as a cooperative service between Singapore Airlines and British Airways. Flight crew were provided by British Airways while cabin crew were Singapore Airlines one way and British Airways the other way.
For the service, Concorde G-BOAD was painted in Singapore Airlines colours on one side. As a result, this aircraft usually operated the Singapore route.
Four days after the service started, it was withdrawn as the Malaysian Government complained about the sonic boom over the Straits of Malacca. How unfortunate!
Before services commenced, it was the Indian Government causing a headache as they refused permission for Concorde to fly over their territory. The airlines bargained but in the end had to route around the country adding 200 miles to the distance.
The Indian Government then tried to demand more access to London Heathrow for Air India in exchange for Concorde overflight rights. Governments have long used air service agreements in their game of political Chess.
When it comes to Malaysia, Singapore Airlines was a great competitor of Malaysian Airlines so that is one aspect. The other is that Malaysia was trying to use the carrot of Concorde access to gain fifth freedom rights out of Heathrow.
Eventually the airlines decided to avoid Malaysia as well, which added more complexity to the route. Services restarted on 24 January 1979 but were not to last.
The End To Singapore Airlines’ Concorde Venture
Concorde finished serving Singapore on 1 November 1980 with flights being withdrawn due to low load factors. Apparently it lost £2 million each year.
Having to fly subsonic over various portions of the route as well as diverting around India and avoiding Malaysia did not help. Regular scheduled services on the rest of the route through to Australia never started as a result.
It is interesting to see that British Airways were attempting some variety in their Concorde services. The aircraft really was not suitable for the long trip from London to Singapore as it was small and noisy and not particularly comfortable.
Concorde’s niche was crossing the Atlantic, specifically to New York and for a time Washington DC and Miami. The short flights and high prices charged once the service was made into a luxury product made it profitable at British Airways.
Have any of you flown on or worked on Concorde? I’d love to hear about it! Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
To never miss a post, you can follow me on Facebook, and I am on Twitter and Instagram too!
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here if you want to see more.
Featured image by Kjell Nilsson via Airliners.net