This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 23, 2003, that was edited for clarity.
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BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: Friday, an era will come to an end as the Concorde is grounded for good. After 28 years of service, the world’s only supersonic airliner will retire from commercial flight, leaving the rich and famous to find another way to cross the Atlantic, and leaving my next two guests to ask where to go from here.
Joining us now is Colin Marshall, chairman of British Airways, and the company’s chief Concorde pilot Captain Michael Bannister. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.
Well, Lord Marshall, tomorrow the last flight. Anything special planned?
COLIN MARSHALL, BRITISH AIRWAYS CHAIRMAN (BAB): Well, there are lots of special things happening tomorrow. Obviously, in the first place, we’re going to depart JFK at 7:00 in the a.m., which is pretty early by Concorde standards, but the purpose of that is to get it into London before dark at a time when, obviously, it can be better seen and witnessed by the many thousands of people that we are expecting at Heathrow to see the arrival of the last Concorde flight.
BUTTNER: Yes, it really is the end of an era.
MARSHALL: It is.
BUTTNER: Captain, you’ve been flying since the very beginning, is that right?
CAPTAIN MICHAEL BANNISTER, CHIEF CONCORDE PILOT, BRITISH AIRWAYS: Since 1977, yes.
BUTTNER: Yes. Where to from here? I mean after you fly a supersonic jet, what do you do next?
BANNISTER: Well, one of the things that we’ve been trying to do in British Airways is make sure that this is a celebration, a celebration of Concorde. Concorde’s been our flagship for 27 years. We want to make sure that she retires with style and grace in a manner that’s fitting for her. So that’s what we’re focusing on right now.
A little further step down the line for me, I’ll be flying one of our other aircraft, maybe one of the aircraft that’s got first-class flat- sleeper beds or one of our 777s. But, right now, we’re looking forward to tomorrow and to that last flight.
BUTTNER: Yes, yes. Well, don’t look beyond tomorrow. I think that’s the way to go.
Sir, do you think that the war with Iraq had anything to do with this, you know, that people were just scared of flying after that?
MARSHALL: No, I don’t think that was the principal reason. I mean the decision to ground Concorde now was the result of a very in-depth review, both on economic and technical grounds, jointly by the manufacturer -- in this case, Airbus -- and by ourselves and, of course, also by Air France with Airbus. And, in large part, it really is a reflection of what has happened in the world and particularly in the business scene over the past two-plus years.
BUTTNER: People are going to discount carriers.
MARSHALL: Yes, well, we had the tragic accident in Paris, which grounded the Concorde for just over a year. As we were getting ready to relaunch Concorde, we had the appalling events of 9/11. All of this, of course, was precipitating economic decline in the principal markets around the world, particularly in financial services.
MARSHALL: When we got Concorde back in the air, the traffic had evaporated to a large extent.
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