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Whatever Happened To Skytrain?

Sat Nov 08, 2003 5:08 am

I love to look at big tri-jets and I wanted to know whatever happened to Sir Freddie Laker and his SkyTrain?
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RE: Whatever Happened To Skytrain?

Sat Nov 08, 2003 7:08 am

Skytrain went out of business I think in the Late late 80's or very early 90's
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RE: Whatever Happened To Skytrain?

Sat Nov 08, 2003 8:39 am

SKyTrain went out of business in 1982. They had previously flown DC-10 (-10s) and A300s in the "SkyTrain" role. He also had a few DC-10-30s toward the end of the life of the airline.

In essence, the reason why Laker & Branson were such good friends in the 1980s (and hence why a VS 747 was named, "Spirit of Sir Freddie") was because BA succeeded doing to Laker what they attempted to do to VS; they undercut prices (and could afford to make a loss), in order to force Laker out of the routes (and hence, the air). Laker gave Branson a big boost in advising on the formation of British Atlantic (later Virgin Atlantic) and so for a while, until Laker started up again in the latter half of the 1990s (see below), they were good friends.

In the mid-90s, Laker then attempted a different strategy - flying DC-10-30s (based in FLL) to LGW and MAN, using "Regal Class" service - leather seats, etc. and "bone china," etc. with good service, but in an economy (3-4-3) layout on the DC-10. Service was "luxury," including PTVs, etc. but did not feature a First or Business class service or anything.

(I am aware that DC-10s are usually 2-5-2, but Laker, for both his attempts, laid them out in a 3-4-3 configuration).

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RE: Whatever Happened To Skytrain?

Sat Nov 08, 2003 9:21 am

A slightly different perspective- Laker thought the rival European airlines wouldn't (or shouldn't be allowed to) charge his low fares. Of course, there's nothing preventing them from doing this- and they did.

Unfortunately, Laker's service was a little too successful, any many passengers bought USA-LGW tickets and then bought separate LON-beyond tickets to their final European destination. Once the likes of AF/KL/LH/SK (maybe not SN- they were a basket case) etc. caught on to what was happening, they in turn lowered their fares which made transiting LON not so attractive.

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RE: Whatever Happened To Skytrain?

Sat Nov 08, 2003 9:30 am

Maybe a partial explanation was the expansion into the A300 and DC-10-30's. This was a financial drain to Laker. I think that these planes were financed when the exchange rate was $1.75/£, but by 1982, the rate was $2.25/£, which cost many more $ in debt service, while BA undercut them on price, draining more capital.

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