NEW YORK -- Pan American World Airways Tuesday charged the British government and British Airways with 'flagrantly' subsidizing fares on the supersonic Concorde to the detriment of U.S. carriers.
Asking that the fares be suspended, Pan Am said the subsidies were a 'classic example of capacity dumping' that have caused a significant amount of first class traffic to be diverted from U.S. airlines to British Airways.
In a complaint filed with the Civil Aeronautics Board, Pan Am charged that the United Kingdom 'flagrantly protects its flag carrier by subsidizing (the Concord) allowing British Airways to set fare levels substantially below cost anf virtually at a par with first class fares on subsonic aircraft.'
Pan Am's round-trip first-class fare between New York and London is $3,858; the current Concorde round-trip fare between the same points is $4,420, 'less than 10 percent more,' a Pan Am spokesman said. Pan Am said there is even less of a differential 3.2 percent, on the Washington-London flights.
British Airways, which was not immediately available for comment, will be asked to respond to the charges, after which the CAB will decide if in fact the fares represent unfair competition.
Pan Am's complaint cited as one example of the cost advantage enjoyed by British Airways the fact that it does not pay capital costs on the aircraft, which 'were in effect a gift from the government.'
The Concorde cruises at twice the speed of sound or 1,350 miles per hour. The New York-London flight takes 3 -4 hours versus 6 -7 hours on a subsonic jet.