Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Secret of Success - Tribute to Sir Freddie Laker

Sir Freddie Laker, who started the first low-cost, no-reservation trans-Atlantic flights is a true pioneer of budget airlines. Later his company collapsed as rivals slashed prices.

In one of his interviews in 2004 Sir Freddie Laker had remarked that "I don't want to appear cocky, but I was the first low-cost operator. I was light-years before everyone else. ... I wanted to create an airline for poor people — for students and senior citizens — who might want to travel between London and the U.S."

He did it. That's the point to be noted. He was very popular with his passengers though unpopular with his competitors. He got his knighthood in 1978 for his services to british economy.

To know more about him...

Mr. Laker was born in Canterbury, England, the son of a cart driver who abandoned the family to poverty. He did not do well in school, but was earning his first profit at 14 by running the school's candy shop.

He left school at 16 and found a job in a plant that manufactured seaplanes, which by one account inspired him to study automotive and aeronautical engineering. He flew in the Air Transport Auxiliary in World War II. After the war, he began buying and selling surplus materials. He bought 12 converted bombers and began carrying vehicles, passengers and cargo including animals.

He made his first fortune in the Berlin blockade and airlift and later helped design and develop London's Gatwick Airport. He helped found what became Britain's biggest independent airline, British United Airways.

In 1966, he founded Laker Airways and managed to end-run U.S. restrictions on charter flights by selling tickets to overseas travelers who joined mock "affinity groups." Authorities cracked down in 1971.

Long before People Express, Independence Air or other small carriers, sir Laker's Skytrain was targeting the cost-conscious, saving passengers about $200 on each one-way flight. At its peak in 1980, the airline hauled one of every five trans-Atlantic passengers. In five years of existence, 3 million passengers boarded sir Laker's fleet of 20 DC-10s. When his company's finances started to wobble, the public donated $1 million to keep it afloat.

The decline of the British pound against the U.S. dollar also was a factor in Skytrain's ruin. Mr. Laker had purchased five new jets with borrowed money, but the loans were in pounds and the purchases in dollars.

After Skytrain collapsed, Mr. Laker lived in the Bahamas and then Miami with his fourth wife, Jacqueline Laker, who survives him, as well as two children. He launched a twice-weekly air service in 1995 between the Bahamas and the East Coast called Laker Airways and Laker Vacations. Flights stopped in 2004.

Hope this real life story is inspiring....buckle up now

1 Comments:

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really an inspiring story of a person who has come up in his life from a very poor back ground. it is truly inspirational. It peps me up a lot. I was really down and Sir Laker has now given me the necessary boost to strive hard. Thanks rearview for the article

 

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