PR but No Advertising Planned for the Supersonic Relaunch

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NEW YORK ( -- There's a theory that the truly wealthy are largely unaffected by economic swings. Thursday's return of trans-Atlantic flights on the Concorde could put that to a test.

Air France and British Airways resume service of their supersonic planes Nov. 7 during one of the worst economic climates the airline industry has ever faced, and the overall economic picture looks grim, perhaps even for the very rich.

With that in mind, both carriers are using reduced schedules: Air France will fly five days a week, down from seven, while British Airways will fly six to the U.S., down from seven, and fly to Barbados from London on Saturdays.

Low-key marketing
While neither airline plans any advertising around the relaunch -- traditionally, the carriers communicate with Concorde flyers via direct mail and other niche communications -- both will mount public relations efforts and hold a joint news conference at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York as the first flights arrive from Paris and London, respectively. British Airways did run some print ads recently offering a special re-introductory fare.

Neither Air France nor British Airways have resumed general brand advertising in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 tragedy. Air France spokesman Jim Faulkner said the airline won't do so until at least Jan. 1. British Airways spokesman John Lampl said the airline is evaluating when to resume its ads, but the resumption of the Concorde service marks a significant investment that may take some funds away from advertising.

Crash 15 months ago
Both spokesmen said they felt Concorde, which has been grounded since a crash in mid-2000, will have satisfactory traffic levels despite the economy.

"We think there's still a demand for it," Mr. Faulkner said.

Mr. Lampl said, "Our feeling is that there are a lot of people who traditionally took it and they've gone 15 months without it and they're more than anxious for it to come back. And that's the kind of passenger that we need to travel and pump the Concorde into the revenue streams."

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