These days Singapore Airlines fans get excited about their new A350s, but did you know that not too long ago they operated the legendary Concorde in partnership with British Airways?
BA and SQ began Concorde operations between London Heathrow (LHR), Bahrain (BAH) and Singapore Paya Lebar (QPG) in 1977. The Concorde G-BOAD was painted with SQ livery on its left side and BA on its right, but flew with and was operated by BA crew. Cabin service was 50/50 BA and SQ.
The first attempt at a service in 1977 was suspended after three flights due to noise complaints from Malaysia caused by the sonic boom as it decelerated over the Straits of Malacca. I cannot imagine that wider political tensions between Singapore and Malaysia at the time had anything to do with the decision.
On 24th January 1979 service was resumed with a new routing to avoid Malaysian airspace, but it was abandoned for good on 1st November 1980 due to rising oil prices and insufficient loads.
The flight itself, especially LHR-BAH, was mostly overland which forced the speedbird to stay subsonic for large parts of the route. Even then the whole journey LHR-BAH-SIN took only 9 hours, or 4 less than it takes today. I cannot find details of ticket prices, but I imagine there was a significant price premium to save a few hours and that must have made it a difficult sell.
I can understand why the Concordes were retired, and its no surprise that the London to Singapore route was never successful, but I would have loved the opportunity to travel at twice the speed of sound just once. In the 1980s I lived under the flight path for Heathrow, and every afternoon we would hear the thunderous roar of Concorde’s Olympus engines as she came into land on her return from New York. It was old tech even then, but it looked as if she was cruising in from outer space. Will we ever see her like again?
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