Laker Airways today asked Britain's Civil Aviation Authority to alter some of the rules governing operation of its London-New York Skytrain service in order to make it more competitive.
The modifications include a change of the British base to Gatwick airport from Stansted, removal of restrictions on the number of flights and earlier seat allocation.
Since Laker announced plans to start the low-cost, no-frills service, a number of airlines, including British Airways, Pan American and TWA have agreed to a new low-fare package to compete with Skytrain.
The airline's chairman, Freddie Laker, told a Civil Aviation hearing today that it was unfair to make passengers go to such a remote airport as Standsted, situated about 50 miles northeast of London. "To force my airline to operate from Stansted now would be a breach of reasoning, a waste of resources, and would substantially reduce British competition on the North Atlantic," Laker argued.
He claimed Stansted facilities were inadequate, and saw no reason why his airline should not use Gatwick. "Next year the forecasts are that only 6 million passengers will use it, and yet it is designed to handle 16 million people," he said.
Gatwick, 25 miles south of London, has a direct rail link with the capital, while Stansted can be reached only by taxi or bus.
The inexpensive Skytrain service, with tickets available only on the day of the flight, will start on Sept. 26. The cost of a New York-London round-trip will be about $235. Since Laker obtained U.S. and British government permission for the service, other North Atlantic carriers have proposed similar low-cost fares which will use Heathrow Airport.