Lewis Maytag Jr. dies airline executive was 64

September 28, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

Lewis "Bud" Maytag Jr., who walked away from the appliance company founded by his grandfather to pursue an interest in flying that led to his becoming chief executive officer of National Airlines, died of cancer Sunday.

His death in Colorado Springs, Colo., at age 64 came after a five-year struggle with cancer.

Born in Rochester, Minn., he was heir to the Maytag Appliance Co. fortune when he moved to Colorado Springs while he was in high school. He later attended Colorado College.

Shunning the family business, he became a pilot and founded Maytag Aircraft Corp., a Colorado Springs airplane fuel supplier, when he was 22. He later founded an aircraft parts company.

At 32, he bought a controlling interest in Frontier Airlines and became its chairman. He bought Miami-based National Airlines in 1962.

He re-equipped National's fleet with Boeing 727 and DC-8 jets, and ordered designer uniforms for the flight attendants. He also helped create the "Fly Me" ad campaign in 1972, which named aircraft after the first names of flight attendants.

In 1975, he launched a discount approach to commercial flight with National's "No Frills" campaign. Passengers were offered a third off air fares for flying an airline that did not offer food, snacks or liquor.

The only thing for sale on board National's fleet was coffee at 25 cents a cup. The move came after a sales slump that had begun a year earlier after a 108-day machinists' strike from which the airline never fully recovered.

Mr. Maytag remained chairman and chief executive officer until National Airlines was purchased by and merged with Pan American World Airways in 1980. The purchase followed a bitter bidding war among Pan Am, Eastern and Texas International for control of financially troubled National.

The merger made the combined carrier the fourth-largest American line in terms of passengers carried (behind United, American and Trans World Airlines) and gave Pan Am the domestic service it said it needed to survive.

Mr. Maytag declined to stand for election to the Pan American World Airways board of directors, citing "personal reasons."

Sources inside the merged company and airline analysts said he was disheartened over the loss of the airline he had brought to maturity.

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