WHEN flag carriers such as British Airways (BA) ruled the skies, only the rich could afford to fly across the Atlantic. That was until Freddie Laker, a British entrepreneur, came along. His dream was to open long-haul travel to the masses. In 1977 he launched Skytrain, the first low-cost long-haul flights between London and New York. “Thanks to Freddie Laker you can cross the Atlantic for so much less,” declared Margaret Thatcher in 1981. “Competition works.” But within a year of her speech Laker Airways had gone bust, amid accusations of predatory pricing.
Since 2013 Norwegian, another low-cost carrier, has been trying to make Laker’s dream a reality. Last year it painted his face onto one of its jets to show it is serious about disrupting transatlantic air travel. But just like Laker Airways, it has run into financial headwinds. And BA is once again a potential beneficiary. On April 12th IAG, a group of flag carriers including BA, said that it had bought 4.6% of its budget rival as a precursor...Continue reading