Quest Quips

blog devoted to CNN International Business anchor, Richard Quest, who looks like a cross between Roger Daltry and a Muppet. You have to see him to believe him...

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Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Concorde Concord

Here's Richard's dispatch while taking the recently revived Concorde in November 2001

ALI VELSHI, CNNfn ANCHOR, BUSINESS UNUSUAL: The world's fastest airliner back in the sky. This morning, separate Concorde flights took off from Paris and London, each landing safely in New York. This is the super sonic jet's first commercial flight in more than a year. Fifteen months ago an Air France Concorde crashed outside of Paris killing everyone on board. The future of the plane was in question until now.
Our own Richard Quest was on board today's flight from London. He joins me now. Richard, thank you for being here. Any trepidation at all about getting on that plane today?

RICHARD QUEST, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: : Only if I could afford the ticket.
No, absolutely not! I mean, look, they've spent - British Airways has spent about $27 million in conjunction with Air France which has spent a similar amount rebuilding, basically, Concorde. And what they did, was there were three main changes. First of all they lined the fuel tanks with kevlar. That's the bullet proof substance so - the idea being that if something ruptured into the tanks, the fuel wouldn't spill and cause a catastrophe. Secondly, they put new tires on that could withstand the faster speeds. The average plane takes off at 180 knots. Concorde goes into the air at 230 or 240 knots. So if there was something wrong ... And finally, they strengthened the wiring under the aircraft so that if something did happen, there wouldn't be a spark. The answer to your question, was there any trepidation? Absolutely not -- only whether the lobster would be chilled.

VELSHI: And I spoke to Captain Mike Banister today, who British Airways is putting out as a spokesperson for this plane. He said, of those three corrections that they've made, any one of those three having been corrected would have prevented the accident that happened 15 months ago from happening. So he feels it's remarkably safe with the makeover. Has there been a makeover inside? One of the criticisms we use to hear about the Concorde is it's a bit tired, certainly not as luxurious as first class in many other places with the exception of some things you're going to tell us about.

QUEST: Well, you know, I don't know too many people and if I was to say Ali, I've got a Concorde ticket, would you like to get on that ramshackle bone shaker? That noisy, cramped, rather ancient plane of 22 years old, would you say yes?

VELSHI: No, I'd likely take it and part of the reason I'd take is because I've been watching some of the stuff you got off the plane.

QUEST: I admire them. They've got new chairs, new leather chairs - very comfortable. I've got to be careful. I don't want to sound like and advert for Concorde, but they've got new leather chairs. They've rekitted it out. At the end of the day it's three hours eighteen minutes from London to New York or visa versa. That's the point about it. It's people don't go on it simply because it's a boondoggle. But what I went on it. Look at this.

VELSHI: I was under the misconception that this was all free stuff.

QUEST: Free? My credit card will be groaning for months. First of all there are the rather splendid Concorde cuff links. They cost me the princely sum of about 29 pounds, $36, $37. So I bought three sets of those because you never know when you're going to need another one.

VELSHI: In fact I'm a sort of fan of cuff links myself.

QUEST: Yes, well keep wishing. I've bought a key ring that's got the nice Concorde fob on and I won't endure it because - look at this! Just look at this. Look at this rather nice cute little bag as well. It says Concorde British Airways and they throw that in for free and it was the only freebie that did come along, I have to tell you, much to my grave disappointment, was these, the pens. I got two.

VELSHI: I was going to say, how'd you get two? Everybody else got one.

QUEST: ... because I was on the way back from the toilet and asked for another one for the mother.

VELSHI: Right, very good. So you're not even giving your mother your only free pen?


VELSHI: They gave you a lovely certificate.

VELSHI: This is your third trip on the Concorde?

QUEST: Yes, I've managed to blather my way on three times so far. It's a very expensive journey, but you know, the analogy I'm making is this, if you are signing a deal for 50 million, a hundred million, if you are running a company worth a billion - I believe you have a lovely phrase, chump change. Suddenly $10,000 gets rounded up into the petty cash account. Now the fact that my petty cash is barely a subway token is really irrelevant.

VELSHI: We've got to go, not that I want to get rid of you, but when do you go back and how are you getting back?

QUEST: I'm afraid I'm going back (19:08:40) tomorrow night to London and there's a quaint phrase, I'm going back subsonic.

VELSHI: Subsonic, I'll have to use that. This is "BUSINESS UNUSUAL" and Richard Quest, you certainly qualify as unusual. Thanks very much for being with us.