Ryan Air e Aer Lingus

Other airlines already offer some pretty cheap fares across the Atlantic compared with the state-run monopolies that Sir Freddie first took on. And though deregulation of air travel in Europe has allowed low-cost carriers to blossom, transatlantic flight is still tightly controlled. Despite years of negotiations, an “open skies” agreement between Europe and America that would truly liberalise transatlantic air traffic—which would allow a rapid expansion of low-cost carriers—still looks a long way off.

The low-cost way of doing business would also need some modification. It would be harder to achieve the quick turn-around on long-haul flights that cheap carriers need. The lack of frills that the luggage-light traveller tolerates on a short haul may not appeal on a long flight. And the elaborate spoke-and-hub operations that the big full-service airlines use to get travellers to their transatlantic flights would not mesh easily with the budget airlines’ simple (and cheaper) point-to-point service. But the transition is not impossible.