Freddie Laker tried it with Skytrain (1977-82) and failed. So did PEOPLExpress in the 1980s. Why should anyone else - Michael O'Leary, for example - succeed in making low-cost, no-frills scheduled transatlantic services work when companies like that couldn't?

That that was then and this is now. Then Laker had to fight governments and get laws changed to be allowed on to the North Atlantic, before facing a recession just after buying 10 McDonnell Douglas DC-10s for dollars when the pound was rock bottom against the US dollar and interest rates were high.

PEOPLExpress was an amazing outfit while it remained a relatively small, simple domestic carrier in the USA. Its troubles began when it started growing fast and getting transatlantic ambitions big time - meaning it acquired Boeing 747s. And, of course, secondary airports were not allowed to be international gateways then.

Now the European/US "open skies" deal has cleared almost all the artificial barriers to entry. When/if O'Leary decides the time has come for a transatlantic no-frills venture he will not make the same mistakes.

But what would his relationship be with an airline that could draw on Ryanair synergies by sharing bases while not sharing its name, directors, employees or aeroplanes?

If O'Leary holds shares, would he be able to resist heading the carrier?

Source: Flight International