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Au Revoir, Concorde

After 27 years of service in the stratosphere, the supersonic Concorde is being retired. That symbol of ultimate travel luxury (it had only one class of service) couldn't survive a slump in the global travel market.

In fact, the Concorde - a joint British-French venture with a combined fleet of 13 jets - never turned a profit.

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It was originally driven by the hopes of its European developers to be competitive global players in high technology. But such supersonic technology never really took off in the industry.

While the Concorde could fly across the Atlantic in three hours, it couldn't fly the vast Pacific, where such a fast jet might have been in greater demand.

And the high cost of maintenance kept it from ever competing on price.

Still, the Concorde drew wide-eyed attention at airports it served, and the experience of flying in it was as close to space tourism as most earthlings could get.

With its unique delta wings, the plane allowed passengers to see the curvature of the earth - and at twice the speed of sound.

Its market demise also may mean that the idea of glamour in flying now has its limits: Tycoon rocketmen and Hollywood jet-setters weren't enough to keep the stylish Concorde aloft.


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