An antitrust suit filed on behalf of bankrupt Laker Airways ended yesterday with a $60 million out-of-court agreement to pay off creditors of the British airline that introduced cut-rate, no-frills transatlantic service in 1977.
About $38 million of the settlement funds will go to Laker's institutional creditors, and an estimated $22 million will go to former Laker employes who were left without paychecks and to ticket holders who were left with unused tickets when the airline collapsed in 1982.
The agreement was signed yesterday by Laker's liquidator, the London office of Touche Ross & Co. accountants, and by the 12 defendants in the antitrust case.
All creditors owed up to $59,600 will receive payment in full. Creditors owed more than $59,600 will receive that amount plus 20 percent of the balance of their claim. Certain major creditors -- banks, for example -- will have their claims settled on an individual basis.
All creditors in the United States and Britain must file with the London office of Touche Ross by Jan. 17, 1986, to become eligible for payment.
The Laker creditors include 14,000 ticket holders, 2,300 employes, 2,500 suppliers, investors in an air travel reserve fund, and several banks and finance houses. Most of those creditors should be repaid by Christmas, said Christopher Morris, who represented Touche Ross in the case.
Morris said that creditors who fail to file by Jan. 17 will be out of luck. "Legally, they will not be able to make any claims after that date," he said at a Washington news conference yesterday. "We can't keep a liquidation proceeding open forever. Four years is enough time for anybody to have come forward."
The liquidation proceedings actually date back to 1982, when the flamboyant Sir Freddie Laker was forced out of the air under the weight of $430 million in debts. Much of that burden came from the fallout of a recessionary economy. But Laker contended that antitrust actions on the part of 10 competing airlines, in alliance with two U.S.-based McDonnell Douglas Corp. companies that built and financed aircraft, helped to shoot him down.