Is the Laker Airways Model Fundamentally Flawed?

Being in the middle of Freddie Awards voting season as we are, I was struck by this comment posted recently by jjlasne over on the Business Traveller forums:

Iceland Express is coming back as Wow Air, a new People Express or Laker Airways. These airlines come and go but legacy carriers carry on

The “these airlines” to which jjlasne refers are the airlines that try to make a go of it with a low-cost, long-haul business model. Airlines like Norwegian Air, Air AsiaX, La Compagnie, and the aforementioned Laker Airways.

This is an interesting observation, and generally true.

Why do you think it is that this model simply doesn’t seem to work long-term? If, as most seem to agree, the vast majority of travelers choose flights nearly solely on price, why can’t low-price long-haul carriers succeed?

In the case of Laker Airways, a good argument could and has been made that the airline might still be in existence today if it weren’t for the legacies ganging up and (unfairly?) forcing it out of business. If you aren’t familiar with the Laker Airways story, and the Sir Freddie Laker story – the man for whom the Freddie Awards are named, you might enjoy this biographical documentary produced by the Biography Channel.

Part 1 embedded below, with links to the remaining parts following.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Ok, so the legacies forced Laker Airways out of business. But what about all of the subsequent airlines who have attempted to follow in Sir Freddie’s foot steps?

Have the legacy carriers forced them all out of business? Would that even be possible?

Curious to hear what you readers think. Why can’t a low-cost, long-haul carrier seem to make it for more than a few years? Is there something inherently wrong with the business model? Maybe there is simply a limit to how long people are willing to suffer uncomfortably.

Or is there some other factor at work?

Read the thread that prompted this line of questioning in its entirety: Long-haul low cost to return to London?

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