Sir Freddie is now 83 and is currently enjoying his retirement in the Bahamas.
Following the collapse of the original Laker Airways (Skytrain) in 1982, Sir Freddie did try to form a new UK airline joining forces with Tiny Rowland of Lonrho but the UK's CAA soon put a stop to this and instead Sir Freddie formed a tour operator, known as Skytrain Holidays, but this only lasted a season. In January 1985, Laker sued 12 airlines, including BA
, BCal, PanAm and TWA, claiming that they conspired to put him out of business. Less than seven months later he received a private settlement worth £8 million from BA
and others including BCal whose contribution was £3 million. Under the settlement, all Laker creditors were paid in full. The quick settlement was probably a result of the UK Government's decision to privatise BA
that could not go ahead with litigation pending in the background.
In the early 1990s, Laker's attempts to relaunch an airline got off the ground when he became joint-owner of Laker Airways (Bahamas) Ltd. The airline leased a handful of DC10s and commenced a scheduled service between Miami and London Gatwick. Unlike the Skytrain service, the newly launched Laker Airways aimed for the up-market passengers offering an enhanced product. The Miami-LGW
service was not successful, and following losses reported to be $45,000 a day, Laker suspended the service and concentrated on negotiating long-term contracts with cruise liners to operate charter flights to carry passengers to the Florida ports. For several years Laker filled almost 60 per cent of its capacity through deals with cruise operators. In later years, the Laker flights were used primarily to carry passengers between Florida and the Bahamas, principally on behalf of the Bahamian Casinos. However, in August 2004 Laker Airways (Bahamas) suspended all services.
Sir Freddie was a pioneer of low-cost travel. Against heavily stacked odds, he took on the CAA, FAA, IATA, the major airlines, the UK and US Governments, Cabinet Ministers and even when they refused to grant him permission, he still carried on with his battles. He paved the way for the likes of MOL
, Stelios etc. Unlike the brashful and publicity-seeking Branson, Sir Freddie was a highly respected businessman and much loved by the public. His employees felt privileged to work for him and even Margaret Thatcher admired him. When the original Laker Airways collapsed, the public rallied to his aid by pouring donations into the "Save Sir Freddie" fund, but the money was returned to the originators.
In the years preceding his retirement, Sir Freddie did regularly lecture and advise on aviation matters. He is well known for his famous quote to today's entrepreneurs Branson and Haji-Ioannou to "sue the bastards". Interestingly, as a tribute to Laker Airways, VS
named one of their 747s as 'The Spirit of Sir Freddie'.
Sir Freddie did not attend the recent memorial service of the late Lord King, his biggest adversary who was probably instrumental in the collapse of the original Laker Airways.
It would be good if Sir Freddie was now writing his autobiography, but I believe that as part of the private settlement with BA
etc, this cannot be published during his lifetime.
It would be interesting to start a thread "What really caused the collapse of Laker Airways (UK)". However, I would think this would only interest a.net members who are now in their late 30s plus.
[Edited 2005-09-20 11:37:33]
MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."