Mr Adam Butler MP, Minister of State in the Department of Industry and M Joel Le Theule, French Minister for Transport, met formally on 21 September 1979 in London to review the progress of the Concorde project since the last major review between British and French Ministers on this subject in November 1976, and to provide for its continuance under the most favourable conditions. The Ministers had spent the previous evening in informal discussions at a private dinner.
The Ministers noted with satisfaction the successful completion by the manufacturers of the authorised production programme of 16 aircraft and 88 engines, the resolution of problems affecting access to the United States and the obtaining of US type certification. They also noted the extent of the Concorde networks which British Airways, with a fleet of five Concordes, and Air France, with a fleet of four Concordes, had now built up in cooperation with third-country carriers, with reliable services, steadily increasing load factors and annual utilisation per aircraft in the two fleets of l9OO and 17OO hours respectively. Continuing technical support for the aircraft and engines by the manufacturers would be necessary so long as Concorde remained in service with either airline. However, project expenditures were expected to continue to decline substantially for the foreseeable future while income from the sale of spare parts could be expected to rise.
The British Government had already announced in April 1979 its decision in principle to allocate the two unsold British-assembled Concordes to British carriers. M Le Theule stated that the French Government had now decided to allocate the three unsold French-assembled Concordes to Air France, as and when needed, within arrangements to be defined on a national level. Against that background, the Ministers decided that the unsold aircraft and support engines should be placed with the British and French airlines with the full contractual support of their manufacturers, financially backed as necessary by their respective Goveruments. Measures of a contractual nature to give early effect to this decision would now be taken by British and French officials and by the manufacturers concerned.
The Ministers noted that their decision would enable the aircraft to be exploited with maximum flexibility by British and French carriers, in association with third-country airlines as appropriate. This offered in present circumstances the best means of securing for each country the maximum financial return from the aircraft.
The Ministers studied a complex of financial issues affecting the two Governments, which derived from past Inter-Company Agreements between manufacturers and from Inter-Governmental provisions of the 1962 Treaty on work-and-cost-sharing. They concluded that the data available at present did not enable them for the time being to arrive at a definitive position on the implementation of the Treaty. They therefore decided that British and French of ficials should pursue their studies in order to determine the extent to which it was possible to arrive at a balance within the meaning of the Treaty by the conclusion of the in-service phase. The Ministers asked that these studies be completed by the end ofJuly 1980 so as to enable them to take early decisions on the overall financial problems resulting from the implementation of the Treaty.
The Ministers also reviewed the prospects for a second generation supersonic transport and took note of the work being done in this field by manufacturers in Britain and France.
21 September 1979