Originally created 10/24/98

Concorde plans stop in Augusta



The Concorde, a supersonic passenger jet, will stop in Augusta on April 9, a St. Louis travel company said.

The sleek plane is expected to stop at Augusta's Bush Field airport and whisk passengers away to London, making a brief stop at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to refuel.

Local travel agents are selling tickets aboard the luxury jet as part of an upscale vacation package. In addition to the flight, the vacation includes a five-night stay in a four-star hotel, a one-day trip to Paris aboard the high-speed Chunnel train and a six-day trans-Atlantic cruise back to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2.

"You start out on the most modern (mode of transportation) and come back on a classic," travel agent Dinah Frank of Dick Frank Travel said.

Local travel agents are selling the packages for $5,995.

The package was set up by Montclair Travel in St. Louis.

"We try to pick cities -- not big cities where it's a usual thing -- but cities where people will have an opportunity to do something they've always wanted to do," said Diane Sommer, a vice president at Montclair Travel.

In some cities big crowds gather just to see the plane, she said.

A joint project between the British and the French in the 1960s, the Concorde is the only supersonic passenger jet in the world. It flies at twice the speed of sound, 1,336 mph, at altitudes of about 60,000 feet.

Ms. Sommer, who has flown on the jet, said the flight is exciting.

"On a clear day, you can see the curvature of the earth," she said.

Bush Field airport Manager Al McDill did not return phone calls to his office for comment Friday.

There are only 12 Concordes -- six are operated by British Airways, six by Air France.

The plane's typical route is New York to London or New York to Paris, although promotional flights from other cities, like this one, are scheduled.

It takes about half the time to fly from New York to London on the Concorde than it does on a conventional jet -- about three hours instead of seven.

Compared to a Boeing 747, sometimes called a jumbo jet, the Concorde is about the same length and only about half as wide. It seats 100 people.

The timing of the flight from Augusta, however, could have been better, travel agents said. The plane leaves on Friday during the Masters Tournament.

It would have been better if the flight left two weeks earlier or two weeks later, said Nancy Parris, Morris Travel vacation manager. Most of the Augustans leaving town for Masters will be gone, and those that remain for the tournament probably will want to stay here until it's over.

A few people already have signed up.

"I'd love to be going on it myself," she said.

For more information about the trip, contact your travel agent or call Montclair Travel at (800) 433-3500.

Frank Witsil covers business issues for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3352.