Described by Flight International as an "aviation icon" and "one of aerospace's most ambitious but commercially flawed projects", Concorde never met its original sales targets, despite initial interest from several airlines.
At first, the new consortium intended to produce one long-range and one short-range version. However, prospective customers showed no interest in the short-range version and it was dropped.
An advertisement covering two full pages, promoting Concorde, ran in the 29 May 1967 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. The advertisement predicted a market for 350 aircraft by 1980 and boasted of Concorde's head start over the United States' SST project.
Concorde had other considerable difficulties that led to its dismal sales performance. Costs had spiralled during development to more than six times the original projections, arriving at a unit cost of £23 million in 1977 (equivalent to £128.87 million in 2015). World events had also dampened Concorde sales prospects, the 1973 oil crisis made many airlines think twice about aircraft with high fuel consumption rates; and new wide-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, had recently made subsonic aircraft significantly more efficient and presented a low-risk option for airlines. While carrying a full load, Concorde achieved 15.8 passenger miles per gallon of fuel, while the Boeing 707 reached 33.3 pm/g, the Boeing 747 46.4 pm/g, and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 53.6 pm/g. An emerging trend in the industry in favour of cheaper airline tickets had also caused airlines such as Qantas to question Concorde's market suitability.
The consortium secured orders (i.e., non-binding options) for over 100 of the long-range version from the major airlines of the day: Pan Am, BOAC, and Air France were the launch customers, with six Concordes each. Other airlines in the order book included Panair do Brasil, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, Air India, Air Canada, Braniff, Singapore Airlines, Iran Air, Olympic Airways, Qantas, CAAC, Middle East Airlines, and TWA. At the time of the first flight the options list contained 74 options from 16 airlines:
|Landing gear||Oui fixe / Yes fixed|
|Stand||Oui / Yes|
|Width / Wingspan||12.80|
|Height||6.10 (hors socle / without stand)|
|Airline / Operator||RAF (Royal Air Force)|