Alastair Pugh CBE
Managing Director and Executive Vice-Chairman of British Caledonian Airways
Sadly we learn that Alastair Pugh, former Managing Director and Executive Vice-Chairman of British Caledonian Airways, has passed away. My sincere condolences go out to his family, many friends and colleagues at this difficult time.

Alastair collapsed at home after a day out racing his classic car last weekend and passed yesterday, 6th March 2019, in East Surrey Hospital. He was 90 years old. 

I had met Alastair a few times over the years, a great source of advice and friend to the site. He also helped with the book and kindly wrote the foreword for it. He had an indomitable spirit, and I felt that not much would stand in his way. RIP Alastair.

Alastair Remembered

From Tony Cocklin - A draft public statement
One of the UK air transport industry’s leading figures, Alastair Pugh CBE, died on March 6, 2019 aged 90. He is best-well-known as managing director and executive vice-chairman of the former British Caledonian Airways (BCAL).

After graduating from the De Havilland Technical School, Alastair worked on Flight magazine from 1955, where he specialised in testing light aircraft and covering civil aviation. He began his air transport career with Air Charter, one of the carriers which came together to form British United Airways (BUA) in 1960. Alastair became head of planning with BUA and was a key member of the team which created BCAL following the Edwards Report ‘British Air Transport in the Seventies.’ This recommended creation of a ‘second force airline’ through the merger of Caledonian Airways and BUA. Initially known as Caledonian-BUA, the new airline was formed in 1970 with Alastair appointed director of research and development.

He rose to become managing director and then executive vice-chairman under BCAL Chairman, the late Sir Adam Thomson. Following the take-over of BCAL by the privatised British Airways in 1987, Alastair became a senior consultant to Goldman Sachs. Alastair was a long-standing, highly-regarded Trustee of Brooklands Museum. A classic car enthusiast he was a former Captain of the Frazer Nash Car Club.

Video of Alastair drving his Frazer Nash in 2015, aged 86 at that time.   Click Here

From Anthony and Scott Thomson : Sons of the late Sir Adam (2000) & Lady Dawn Thomson (2018)
The last time we saw Alastair was last year at Mum's funeral, we really appreciated the effort he took to attend and unfortunately as he had  to leave after the service we had little time to talk with him. It's another loss to the BCAL family, however, he had a long and interesting life and it should be celebrated. There are few people that you cannot remember without any negative memories, Alastair was one of those few and will be well remembered. We will particularly remember that he kept in touch with Mum after Dad died years ago and the pile of Christmas cards we found in her collection once she passed on. Another good guy has left us and moved on to the great Hangar in the sky.

From Richard Webster

That is very sad news to hear. I did meet up with Alastair during my time at BCAL at many functions. He will be sadly missed throughout the Airline Industry by many colleagues and friends. My thoughts go out to his family at this sad time

From Elizabeth Lockhart-Mure
I first met Alastair in Nairobi in the mid ‘60’s when I was with BUA. He was a fine and kind man who epitomised the word ‘gentleman’ in every sense of the word.  RIP

From Guy Boyling
Farewell to a great man in the business. I shared a helicopter LGW / LHR (BCAL) with him once, and on arrival he was there, helping to load and offload the baggage. A dedicated aviation man.

From Richard Heywood
A true character with such enthusiasm. I took him flying in the BCAL Piper Cherokee Archer on his 90th birthday. I did the take off and landing but he did the rest of the hour’s flight a lot better than I would have done. He reminded me that day that he had once landed a Tiger Moth on the grass at Gatwick. He couldn’t recall the year, but it must have been a long while ago. Keep flying high Alastair.

From Ken Lownds : Thanks for letting us know. A remarkable man, well said.

From Nigel Elliot : So very very sad - a true gentleman.

From Terry Saward
So very sad to hear the news. My wife worked in the directorate. She will be very upset when she hears the news. RIP Alastair and thank you for everything. R.I.P

From John Stocker :  So sorry to hear of Alastair's passing. He was one of the best. RIP

From Dave Howells: Sorry to hear this, I met him a few times, awesome man. R.I.P

From Bob Coleshill : So to hear this sad news I knew him from the Sussex House days

From Joy Old
Very sad news. He was one of life’s great characters and will be sadly missed especially charging up the motorways in his beloved racing car. RIP Mr Pugh.

From Tom Stringer
Sad news. A good age and he passed away at the end of a day doing what he liked doing. Remember once looking out of Caledonian House seeing a salesman deliver his then new Porsche. RIP

From Robert Rice : RIP. To a true gentleman and character. He will be greatly missed.

From Pat Cresswell : Very sad news. Condolences to family and friends.

From Jean Carlyle-Lyon : Fly High Alastair

From Mandy Lenanton : So very sad to hear this...RIP Alastair ...another legend gone

From Mick Brooker : He was my boss at one time. A great guy. RIP Alastair

From Debbie Cornford : So very sad. Phil and I were lucky to see him at Biggin Hill two years ago. A lovely man. RIP xx

From Candice Bridge
: Very sad news indeed. RIP

From Charles Powell
I first met Alastair just over 50 years ago when he interviewed me for a job in the Commercial Planning department of BUA. That was a very enjoyable occasion for me and it proved to be the start of a long working relationship between us. Together and over many years we worked on some major projects, varying from securing unrestricted rights on the domestic routes, frequency developments in Africa and South America, the new American routes from 1977, and eventually to the very future of BCAL itself in 1986.

We frequently travelled together, we had numerous times together to discuss and try to work through the seemingly endless range of problems that faced BCAL particularly those caused by the harsh economic regulatory environment within which we had to operate.  We found many solutions. I will always be deeply grateful for the opportunities he entrusted to me and for his trust in asking me to solve so many problems.

At his request I managed In-Flight Services for five years through a period of unprecedented growth and an endless product upgrade programme. Amongst every other issue that gave me the clearest insight into Alastair's personal determination to ensure that BCAL would triumph through sheer professionalism and through the provision of service  of the highest quality. Alastair was never in any doubt that the company had to be at the top end of industry performance and his dedication to achieving that never wavered. He set standards for the company that were truly memorable. He will be much missed.

From Karen Gibbs : Devastating news, RIP

From Tony Cutting
One of nature's real gentlemen and a fine MD, so glad he was able to really enjoy his well earned retirement driving his wonderful Frazer Nash. Condolences to his family and many friends

From David Williams
A pioneer professional and true gentleman I remember. He was always helpful and supportive to me in my early days in Caledonian. RIP Sir

From Dorothy Stuart : So sad to hear this news.  He was such a nice man.

From Geoff Tymms : RIP Sir

From Angie Marr : RIP...It must be a comfort for everyone to know that he had such a full life right up till the end xx

From Lesley Peacock : Sad news. Condolences to family and friends. RIP Alastair.

From Mark Wiles : Met him a few times going up and down in the lifts at Caledonian House, very nice man, real gent.

From Caron Phillips
Very sad news, but lovely to know one of the last times he had was being in his beloved car. RIP Sir, and my dearest condolences to his family and friends.

From Ricky Cuss : Bless him, he went out in style. RIP Alastair.

From Vanessa Ridgway van Perlstein
Met Alistair a few times and always enjoyed speaking to him. Very helpful with my jump-seat tickets when they were able to be given.

From Jeff Youtan
A sad day! A true guide and mentor to so many of the BCal family and who in no small part contributed to making the airline the great carrier it was.

From James Devlin : Very sad news. A great MD and he would always speak to you. RIP and condolences to his family. God Bless

From Debbie Norman : Very sad, but a wonderful life lived to the full.

From John Morgan
So sorry to hear about Alastair passing away, from all I’ve heard he was formidable but a gentleman. Glad he made it to 90 and that driving his Fraser-Nash had given him much pleasure.

From Hughie Hartley : RIP to a true gentleman and a genuine managing director of BCAL

From Jim Williams : A great man and a gentleman, R.I.P ALASTAIR

From Paul Foster : Always a true gentleman

From Christine Jegu : He certainly helped to put BCal on the map and made it a fantastic airline to work for! RIP.

From Piero Meda : Very Very bad news, sharing the grief from Italy

From George Banks
Such sad news about Alastair Pugh. I did not know him well but I was in Hong Kong when the first flight arrived and he dotted the eye of the lion on the DC10's tail and I often flew with him.

From John Zareba
A great person, I often wondered if he should have been knighted. Always had great respect for him. Rest in peace "Sir" Alastair

From Roger Moore : RIP, a lovely man.

From Simon Westlake 
I was only thinking of him recently. I seem to remember seeing him driving his pale blue metallic Porsche 911 down the A23 towards Gatwick passing me on the way to work. Sad to read he has passed away.

From Roy Sexton : I last time I saw Mr Pugh was at Brooklands. What a great man. RIP Sir.

From David Hicks : Very sad news. My condolences to his family. May you rest in peace Alastair.

From Sally Ann Beischer
Very sorry to hear this news, but it sounds as if he had a great last day before being taken into hospital. Alastair was a true gentleman.

From Tricia Riley : How sad, The last of the BCal bosses. Always such a gentleman

From Laura Wills : Yes, another true gentleman gone - what a nice decent chap he was- RIP

From Richard Friend : Sad news. Condolences to his family. He presented me with my ES award. RIP.

From Valerie Edwards : RIP, Alastair a true BCal man

From Adrian Schilke
He has his own set of wings now. Great gentlemen who I had total respect for. BCAL was his passion and it cascaded to everyone who worked for a great company/airline.

From Mel Lourenço : RIP, a lovely man, indeed.

From Roger Phillips
Very sad news. In the final days of BUA and the early days of Caledonian//BUA then BCAL Alastair was the Research and Development Director responsible for those of us in Economic Planning. He was probably the best “Boss” I had in my career. RIP

From Jenny Thomas : So sad to hear this RIP Alastair- a true Gentleman

From Phil Bowell
This is a very sad loss for all who knew Alastair - a genuinely nice man. I first met him when he flew his classic Frazier Nash over to JFK on the Combi when I was based there running cargo. He was on his way to school in Boston for a period and wanted in his words “a car to get the girls excited”. I always enjoyed meeting him and talking to him. I will always remember the visit around Brooklands with him - so knowledgeable, and such a warm human being.

From Michael Holt-chasteauneuf 
A true gentleman who had time for people whatever their station in life. Apart from being a leading light in the aviation industry he was a motoring enthusiast through and through. Long after our BCAL days I spoke to him many times whilst doing commentary duties for the VSCC race meetings. There again he always had time for a chat. A true Nash man through and through; if he could have chosen how to go that would have been it. An interview in the motoring magazine The Automobile magazine is worth reading. RIP Alastair I am sure you will be near Bolzano. He will be sadly missed by so many

From Roger Henning
What a brilliant executive, lovely gentleman and sports car buff! Alastair always had a solution to every challenge & opportunity, which popped up at  Board meetings I attended as BCAL VP External Affairs including:

Decision to successfully bid for lucrative British Army troop contracts to underwrite the start-up costs of new DC-10 services to HKG  : Opening up ‘bucket shops’ advertising 100 pound sterling  (strictly limited seats) from HKG to Gatwick  and referring any overflow demand to full price CX  :  Introduction of cabotage fares from HKG to enable pax to fly to several UK destinations beyond Gatwick  :  Court battle and bid to fly Gatwick to Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane via Colombo, scuttled by BA and Ansett  Briefing on tactics for me to present to PM Margaret Thatcher @ No 10, on collapse of Laker Airways, including our successful offer to fly stranded passengers home FREE, on condition Laker would never again be given traffic rights or a licence to fly any commercial services  Rapid response plan to take over Laker Holiday retail sites or to buy out Chinese restaurants or laundries, adjoining Laker sites and replace them with BCAL or Caledonian Holiday offices, with some new stores up and running within three days  :  Being instructed to set up meetings with Rupert Murdoch in New York & the late Robert Holmes a’ Court in Perth, to extract  millions to fund a proposed duopoly with Ansett  :  Facilitate BCAL’s failed attempts to merge with Cathay Pacific, Sabena and KLM and ending up in bed with BA...….Those were the heady days of BCAL - way back when. We all loved the adrenalin rush of the cut and thrust of BCAL deal making.

From David Heal : He was a great Leader of Men who was respected by all Members of Staff.

From Lisa Pegler : So sad, but what an amazing man

From Simon Rickard : A great loss. RIP

From Joaquim Singpo : Great leader and great man R.I.P

From David John Mercer : Echoing many others a fine gentleman. May he fly high and rest in peace.

From Jürgen Schwarz : It is very sad to hear this. My condolence is with his Family.He was a gentlemen all the way. I`m very sad.

From Randolph Sesson
I first met Alastair in 1993. While a young banker in Hong Kong for Goldman Sachs, I was pitching the assignment to represent China Southern Airlines in its initial public offering on the stock market.  I was informed by my colleagues in London that Goldman Sachs had hired a former airline executive, Alastair Pugh, as an advisor and I should contact him for my pitch to China Southern. We shared many interesting experiences on this project - seeing the interplay of the Communist China in the context of a company learning how to become part of the modern corporate world, and the infamous duck feet dinner at a Guangzhou restaurant! Thus began a long and most enjoyable friendship despite our differences in age and background. He was an unfailing source of energy and inspiration to me throughout my career, and a great friend in good times and bad.

An anecdote which I’m sure your BCal colleagues will appreciate. I was in Rio de Janeiro on business many years ago, and was in a limo car back to the airport. In discussion with the driver, I mentioned that I was a transportation banker, and he mentioned that he used to be the station manager for an airline. I asked him which, and he of course said British Caledonian.  He then waxed lyrical about how it was the best company he ever worked for, how he enjoyed working with his fellow employees all over the world, and how Alastair was the best boss he ever had. I then suggested we call Alastair from the car. Fortunately we reached him and the two had a most pleasant trip down memory lane. A small reminder of both BCal’s and Alastair’s impact on others. May he rest in peace, or better yet, with is his favoured Frazer Nash.

From Hazel Wilkins : So very sad he was a lovely person. Rest in Peace x

From Howard Meredith : A very sad loss. A true gentleman. RIP

From Elizabeth English : So sad to hear this. He was a lovely man, and always cared for BCal staff. Rest in Peace Alastair

From Coreen Wilcox
: So sad. My condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace Alastair

From Brian Hopper : Sad news about Alastair he was a lovely friendly guy and a great boss

From Ron Paterson
A proper gentleman. I'm only glad he never found out we took his car out for a test drive. Thanks to MT and my colleague in training it never came to light. He was the spirit of BCal. RIP Mr Pugh.

From Barbara Harmes : RIP. A lovely man. Condolences to his family

From Peter Chapman
I knew Alastair for over fifty years.  He became a very true friend. A quirk of political timing, which resulted in the end of British Caledonian, prevented his becoming the Chairman, and leader, of a very great British airline.  We shall all miss his enthusiasm and his wisdom.

From Bob Coleman
It was such a shock to learn of the passing of Alastair. An inspirational colleague with an extraordinary depth of knowledge about all things to do with commercial aviation, and  who was always approachable even at times of the greatest pressure. Perhaps more importantly than anything else he was a true gentleman. RIP Alastair and many thanks.

From Brian Culver
I moved from Service Control, a Redcap, in around 1968/9 into the Fleet Planning Department working under Frank Skilbeck the manager. We were a section of the Corporate Planning Department under the leadership of Alastair. They were happy times and I owe a lot to Alastair for the encouragement of personal development and the example of 'management by example' which has stayed with me to this day. My thoughts will be with you all on 23rd March. Thank you Alastair, that I am still working in the aviation industry, yes still working, owes much to you.

From Mark Carpenter
I met Alastair several times during my time with BCAL and always left the meeting feeling the better for it - a rare quality for someone in his position.  On one occasion he sat behind me in the jump seat of a DC-10 during an approach and landing into Recife on a particularly foul night when we were fortunate to avoid a diversion.  He didn't say a word until he thanked the crew for a pleasant flight and disembarked.  His avuncular manner and approachability belied his elevated position in the company and was instrumental in fostering many of the qualities that set the BCAL family apart.  In later years we met from time to time as I live not far away and he still retained a wry smile and lively mind.  A life well lived and remembered with respect.  RIP.

(I note that Alastair started out with Air Charter many years ago - my father, Chips Carpenter, flew the Bristol Freighter and York in the 1950's with that company.)

If you would like to leave a message in remembrance please drop me a line anytime at

Condolences were also extended by:

Dave Thaxter, Walter & Thelma Riggans, Alan Reeves, Richard Church, Reed Purvis, Linda Daley, Clare MacBain-Williams, Geoffrey Lewis, Dudley Rice, Bryan Reburn, Maria Shaw, Sally Simmonds, Dave Surry, Laurie Berryman, John Bailey, Paul Foster, Lindsay Smith, Trevor Tommy Gunn, Tricia Riley, Jackie Hebert, Ian Heath, Susan Gregory, Gail Gilchrist, Frank Skilbeck, Seona Craig, Hughie Hartley, Brian Streeter, Sandra Currie, Don Eckford, Barrie Rawlins, Bob Lillywhite, Mark Wiles, Jenny Thomas, Michael Selmes, Terry Lyons, Julie Nuttall, Dave Howells, Ana Eva Heuberger, Roger Phillips, Peter Durran, Tricia Meadows, Ornella Raanaas, Cherry Perkins, Ian Jones, Dennis Skinner, Malcolm McCluskey, Audrey E. Bateman, Alan Flower, Steve Easley, Mel Lourenço, Carol Easley, Steve Easley, Pat Cresswell, Jenny Kempa, Richard Friend, Kris Massie, Geoff Tymms, Candice Bridge, David John Mercer, Riaz Butt, Tom Stringer, Adrian Schilke, Barbara Crosse, Mandy Lenanton, Simon McIntosh, Fee Flee, David Heal, Julie Splarn, Mike Jeffs, Kim Stapleton MacBeath, Sarah Cunningham, Davina Janman, Vivian Izzard, Marion Clamp, Peter Kenworthy, Andy Coupland, Pauline Ward, James Devlin

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Alastair and the Lady Mayoress of Birmingham share a joke at the opening of the Birmingham office in 1982.  Brian Hopper, Regional Manager Midlands, holds the cowboy hat for the Mayoress to pick the winner of two tickets to Dallas.
Service details

A Thanksgiving and Celebration of Alastair Pugh's life was held at the Brooklands Museum, in Surrey, on Saturday 23rd March 2019. 

The family kindly extended an invitation for Alastair's friends and former colleagues to join them.
British Caledonian - A Tribute