Cash Ready for Stranded Skytrain Passengers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Some $60 million will be distributed among Laker Airways’ creditors - including thousands of people who were holding tickets when the cut-rate carrier went out of business in 1982, under a settlement reached Tuesday.
The money was released with formal settlement of an anti-trust suit against rival airlines accused of forcing the British airline into bankruptcy.
It will be distributed among ticketholders on both sides of the Atlantic, former Laker Airways employees, lawyers, banks and other creditors, said Christopher Morris, a chartered accountant with Touche Ross and Co. in London, which liquidated the company.
The antitrust suit accusing British Airways, Pan American, Trans-World, other major trans-Atlantic carriers and the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corp. of conspiring to force Laker into bankruptcy has been withdrawn, Morris said.
″We’re hoping to get money to creditors as quickly as possible,″ he said, announcing the formal settlement at a news conference.
Ticketholders and employees who have not made claims against the company should contact his office by Jan. 17, he added.
″So far we have claims from about 14,000 ticketholders and possibly 1,000 employees,″ Morris said. Several thousand ticketholders have not presented claims, he said, but added that the exact number was unknown.
Unused tickets will be considered valid claims but those who have discarded or lost them can present other evidence such as credit card vouchers or travel agent invoices, Morris said.
Of the $60 million, $12.5 million will be paid to two American law firms that handled the antitrust suit and $8 million to Sir Freddie Laker, founder of the London-to-New York ″Skytrain.″ About $5.6 million is set aside for ticketholders and $7 million for former employees.
Joan Laker, Laker’s wife, has accepted an offer of $50,000 for her 500,000 Laker shares, Morris said.
″I think the fact that all the creditors are satisfied is a very unusual but, of course, a highly satisfactory outcome for a major liquidation such as this,″ he said.
The antitrust suit was filed in November 1982, seeking more than $1 billion from British Airways, Panam, TWA, Lufthansa German, Swissair, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Sabena Belgian Airlines, UTA French airlines, British Caledonian, Scandinavian Airlines System and McDonnell Douglas and its financing subsidiary.
Laker’s major creditors include the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Airbus Industrie, General Electric, a syndicate of banks headed by Midland Bank, Clydesdale Bank, Mitsui Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada.