What Happened To Singapore Airlines’ Concorde?

Singapore Airlines used to operate Concorde. Well, half of it anyway. We take a look at what Singapore Airlines were doing with Concorde, why it was in their fleet and where it’s ended up now.

Singapore Airlines Concorde
What happened to the Singapore Airlines Concorde? Photo: Wikimedia

When you hear the story of Concorde, it’s always all about Air France and British Airways. But did you know that Singapore Airlines also operated a Concorde? Although it wasn’t for long or particularly successfully, seeing the big pointy bird in SQ livery is really something special. Let’s find out what happened to Singapore Airline’s Concorde.

A plane of two halves

The Singapore Airlines Concorde was jointly operated between themselves and British Airways. The aircraft, G-BOAD, was a true joint venture, with both airlines taking equal responsibility (and glory) for operating the flights.

It was one of the earliest examples of a codeshare/alliance type partnership in aviation. Although the flight deck crew were always British Airways, the cabin crew alternated by segment between British Airways and Singapore Airlines.

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G-BOAD
The BA side of G-BOAD. Photo: Wikimedia

Most interestingly, the aircraft itself was a plane of two halves. The left or port side was adorned with the Singapore Airlines livery, while the right or starboard side was in the British Airways Negus livery. It depended on where you were standing whose plane you thought you were on!

Why was it flying to Singapore?

Back at the beginning of Concorde’s story, both Air France and British Airways were denied landing slots at JFK. This meant both needed to find other routes on which to operate their new aircraft. For British Airways, a speedy Kangaroo Route had always been hugely attractive, so this is where they set their sights.

Concorde, of course, couldn’t fly right to Sydney in one go, therefore BA needed to pave a route across the continents. They began with a direct route to Bahrain, which would then connect up with Singapore before finally heading on to Sydney.

London to Bahrain was originally launched in 1976, running three times a week using G-BOAA. The next stage of this was to extend the service into Singapore, and having SQ on board with this would make everything a whole lot easier.

Singapore Concorde
Giving Singapore Airlines 50% of the real estate on the livery made entry into Asia much easier. Photo: Wikimedia

SQ and BA worked together to launch the service, and announced its commencement on 9th December 1977, taking the flight time from London to Singapore (including the stop in Bahrain) to just nine hours.

What went wrong?

G-BOAD had only made three flights from the UK to Singapore when the service had to be suspended. The problem was with Malaysia. The Malaysian government withdrew permission for the aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds over the Straits of Malacca. They cited issues with the supersonic boom and environmental concerns as the reason for the removal of rights.

However, many believe that this move was more of a political swipe by the Malaysians, who were at the time trying to secure additional landing slots at Heathrow as well as fifth freedom rights. They weren’t the only nation to see this opportunity either.

Back when the service had launched, India refused to allow the aircraft to fly supersonic over its airspace. They too cited problems with the boom but were similarly angling for slots and rights at the busy London airport. This had added 200 miles to Concordes flight path, which only increased the journey time by 10 minutes, but of course, added fuel consumption costs to the route.

G-BOAD
G-BOAD flew again on the Singapore route from 1979-1980. Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr

Resolutely determined to make the route a success, BA and Singapore resumed flights on 24th January 1979, this time avoiding Malaysian airspace as well as Indian. This added further complexity and cost to the route, which was to ultimately be its downfall.

On 1st November 1980, the service was ended for good. The carriers cited decreasing traffic as one of the reasons, with the route estimated to be costing the operators around £2m a year.

So where is it now?

G-BOAD is not your average Concorde (as if any Concorde could be deemed to be average). It was a record-breaker in many respects, and not just for its half and half livery. G-BOAD made the fastest transatlantic crossing of any Concorde in 1996, traveling from JFK to LHR in just 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

Out of all 20 Concorde ever built, G-BOAD racked up the most air time. In total, the plane flew for 23,397 hours, more than any other Concorde with either Air France or British Airways.

G-BOAD at the Intrepid Air and Sea Museum
G-BOAD at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Photo: Wikimedia

The aircraft’s last flight was on 10th November 2003, when it flew from London Heathrow to JFK where it was transferred to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York. It’s still there today, so do call in and say hi if you’re in the area.

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George Williams

That’s a fascinating story. Thank you.

DaveGW

I well remember this service and the issues raised by it. One factor that limited its viability was weight limitations on the Bahrain-Singapore leg, which restricted the passenger load to something like 75. As an interesting aside, about three weeks ago I bought a complete passenger information pack, including two extra copies of the menu, for this service at a local auction. It was from flight BA017 LHR-BAH-SIN sometime in 1979 and had apparently come from an estate sale. I don’t think anyone else realised what it was or how rare it was because it only cost me £6. Rather… Read more »

Torger Bjornstad

I worked a lot in Sri Lanka at that time. There were many journeys back and forth between Oslo and Colombo. As a rule, I flew with the Air Lanka Lokeed 1011 which they had taken over from British airways. The aircraft were operated by BA cockpit crew.

Once when I was going back to Europe there was a Concorde a bit remote at the airport. As a flight enthusiast, it surprised me greatly.

Could this have been a consequence of this route cooperation to Singapore? Possible charter?

Anyone know the answer?

DaveGW

Concorde did a number of round-the-world flights and some of those stopped off in Colombo. What year was this?

Gerry Stevens

Interesting article. I was with MSA/SIA for 33 years and ‘despatched’ the first LHR-BAH-SIN Concorde flight on 9/12/1977 on behalf of SIA (as it was a BA aircraft with BA Flight Deck crew, clearly a BA Despatcher did the actual work !!) Actually SIA and BA cabin crew operated all sectors. It wasn’t just the Malaysians and Indians who raised concerns but also the Sri Lankans and Indonesians ! To make the service more desirable from a revenue/time standpoint, we wanted to extend it to SYD, but the Australians refused in order to protect Qantas !That’s why the service eventually… Read more »

Bernie

Little is said about the main reason for Concorde being banned from JFK. BA and/or AF could have shared a slot with Concorde, but that wasn’t the reason … JFK didn’t want Concorde, period. As with other US east coast airports. But, also, JFK was not very almighty in global terms … so, why? Yes, politics or, to be more specific, Boeing.

Karma.

Sam

I flew on this aircraft twice to Bahrain. I also flew on Concorde a total of 33 times of which four were on Air France. BA made an excellent job with their Concordes but AF never seemed to bother so much. Once on an AF Concorde taking off from Paris there were two loud bangs. The man sitting next to me immediately said “tire bursts”. Fortunately the flight was aborted but it wasn’t the first time that the man had had such an experience! By the way, Braniff also flew AF and BA Concordes from Dulles to Dallas at speeds… Read more »

Jaime López

Let me know if I’m wrong, but I remember in any of my trips in the late 70s in Texas Airport I saw a concord painting with the colors of Brannif Airlines. I’m wrong? 😳

Henry Zagan

Parked out in the open on the Hudson River – Salt air spells corrosion.

Mike

Where is this aircraft now?