Braniff and the Concorde

One of the often-overlooked chapters of Concorde’s history was Braniff International’s (BN) interchange flights.

May 2, 2022

DALLAS – One of the often-overlooked chapters of Concorde’s history was Braniff International’s (BN) interchange flights with British Airways (BA) and Air France (AF). Here is the story.

Braniff flew the Concorde from Dallas Fort Worth Regional Airport (DFW) to London and Paris via Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). This 16-month operation lasted from January 12, 1979, to May 31, 1980.

The carrier had placed options for three of the airplanes in 1966, only to cancel them in 1973. Then, in 1978, Supersonic plans began to revive, when 14 Braniff Pilots checked out on the supersonic jet. 

During the planning of these proving flights, Braniff decided to operate the Concorde in some long-time destinations near DFW that could serve as alternate airports in case of diversions. Others would be new cities added under the deregulation expansion. Eventually, the final itinerary was: 

  • Day 1: DFW to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and back to DFW. 
  • Day 2: DFW to Denver Stapleton, Midland-Odessa, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and return to DFW. 
  • Day 3: DFW to Amarillo, Kansas City, Memphis, and back to DFW. 
  • Day 4: DFW to San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, and Washington Dulles.

Between 30 and 35 people from Braniff, British Airways, the manufacturer British Aerospace Corporation (BAe), the engine-maker Rolls-Royce, and the FAA would be on each of these flights. Local public officials, travel agents, and media representatives would be taken aboard the aircraft at each stop.

Braniff International Concorde brochure. Photo: The Airchive

An Unprofitable Supersonic Foray

Although Braniff’s early press releases had said that both Air France and British Airways would put a BN livery on the left side of the airplanes used on the interchange, no Concorde ever wore Braniff colors.

However, we did have retouched photos of British Airways’ G-BOAD, which had Singapore Airlines colors on the left side, with a narrow orange stripe across the windows, orange Braniff titles in the script type font used on the airline's Boeing 727s and DC-8s, and an orange tail with white ‘BI’ letters, reminiscent of N601BN, Braniff’s first Boeing 747.

In 1980, oil prices were soaring, the prime interest rate was a staggering 20%, and when the expected Easter traffic rush failed to materialize, something had to give. One of the first victims of the ensuing cost-cutting exercise was Concorde, which never made Braniff a dime flying to London three days a week and twice weekly to Paris, although it was worth its weight in publicity gold.

Article written by Michael J. Kaeser. Featured image: Braniff flight crew, Concorde cockpit. Photo: The Airchive

Order now the Braniff International May 2022 Special Edition Issue!

Braniff envisioned a future centered around supersonic travel that differed greatly from what air travel was—or, in the end, would be. Find out more in our latest issue, dedicated to the only US airline to have operated the Concorde.

Want to find out more about this and other fascinating stories? Don’t miss the special edition of Airways, which remembers and celebrates the rich, colorful story of this pioneering airline.

Shop now