Dear Sir,
Following yet again a preamble by “Monitor” in the MDB (Friday) about Concorde, I would question the statements made: “obsolete aircraft”, “no commercial future”, “white elephant”, “has never been remotely profitable”. Considering Concorde was built in the 1960s when airlines were national carriers subsidised by governments, the initial development/manufacturing costs will have been written off, and as it is invariably pretty full flying to New York at £6'000 a seat, return flight, I would have thought it was highly profitable. They actually, for aircraft, have flown not many hours (compared to other more package-type flights) so have quite some “life” left in them. The reason more supersonic 'planes were not made was that the Americans, not being in the running supersonic wise, put so many initial restrictions on Concorde that it stopped its mass production. Future editions might well have been more economically friendly. Unfortunately, we will never know, as anyone ever having suffered from “jet lag” will have welcomed cutting flying time by half on long journeys.

Concorde cannot open up the throttle until they are over the sea, so no-one is molested by a sonic boom. Maybe “Monitor” should contact British Airways about their reservations on Concorde, who knows they may, as a reporter, be offered a “freebee” to see for themselves, whatever else, it's quite an experience! Whilst on the subject of airlines and flying, when first hearing that Swissair was planning a merger with Sabena, alarm bells already started ringing for me. Swissair was my favourite airline, efficient, courteous, and giving that something “extra”, whereas Sabena was at the bottom of the scale.

I recall travelling from Palma to Venice once, with a connection at Barcelona. Chose flight times to arrive in Venice for lunch, Palma-Barcelona fine, but it was Sabena onwards to Venice. The flight was late arriving (broke down in Madrid) so we were travelling at lunchtime. The fare offered was a hard, round roll, more reminiscent of a cricket ball than bread, and a small piece of cheese any self-respecting mouse would have turned its nose up at due to its questionable age. The return flight was actually at lunchtime and the hostess came by to deliver exactly the same fare, roll and cheese. However, being forewarned I had stopped by at a delicatessen in Venice and had them make me some delicious fresh prawn, salmon, etc sandwiches, so I was politely able to say “no thank you” to the proferred “meal”, but it was enough to make a big man cry to see the faces of my fellow passengers when they saw what had been placed in front of them, compared to my “feast”! Sabena will be no loss to the flying public, and it is generally considered there are too many operators in Europe so more will go to the wall, or merge, be taken over, etc and hopefully the ones who survive will start thinking about giving real customer service and put some pleasure into air travel instead of, as at present, it can be the worst part of any trip/holiday.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Phillips. Palma

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