Virgin Atlantic's anger with British Airways over a perceived lack of co-operation on Concorde spilled over into a public row last week, as Virgin's dreams of operating the supersonic airliner were ended when Airbus ruled out providing support beyond the end of this year.

The UK airline emerged as a potential saviour when Air France and British Airways announced their intention to retire the aircraft this year. But it has been frustrated by BA's unwillingness to provide figures to assess the viability of Concorde operations and its refusal to sell the aircraft.

The row culminated in a live, heated exchange between Virgin Atlantic chairman Sir Richard Branson and BA chairman Lord Marshall during the UK television chat show Richard and Judy. Branson, a guest on the show, argued with Marshall, who had phoned in. Marshall defended BA's position by saying the decision "has effectively been taken by the manufacturers, who have said quite categorically that they will not continue to provide the parts or support the aircraft beyond the end of this year".

Branson asked whether BA had put pressure on manufacturer Airbus to say this - which Marshall denied.

Quoted in the Financial Times, Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said: "We will absolutely not, as Airbus, support any initiative to put Concorde back into operation by any other operator. It is not that the aircraft is unsafe, but we would have to charge such an incredible amount [for support] to the operator that it is quite unrealistic."

Source: Flight International