Phil Bakes, who helped write the legislation that deregulated the airline industry, died Aug. 3 of a bone marrow disorder. He was 70 years old and lived South Miami, Fla.
Bakes would leave his mark on the travel industry in other ways as well, heading up two airlines and forming one of the first giant “rollups” of tour operators.
Two years after graduating from Harvard Law School, Bakes became a member of the Watergate special prosecutor team.
He was then recruited by Stephen Breyer, who had worked with him on the Harvard Law Review, to help dismantle the Civil Aeronautics Board and deregulate the airline industry. During that process, Bakes became acquainted with Frank Lorenzo, the chief executive officer of Texas International Airlines.
When Lorenzo launched his takeover of Continental Airlines, he turned to Bakes for help in dealing with labor issues and eventually named him president and chief executive officer of the airline. Bakes successfully led the carrier out of Chapter 11, and Lorenzo appointed him president and chief executive officer of Eastern Airlines to achieve a similar feat. Eastern, however, proved a tougher nut to crack, and after Lorenzo was ousted by Eastern’s bankruptcy court, Bakes resigned.
Bakes re-emerged in the travel industry in the late 19990s when he began buying up tour operators firms around the world, building a company that would eventually be called Far & Wide. But 9/11 brought the industry to its knees, and Far & Wide filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003.
The following year, Bakes co-founded BBX Capital Partners and served as its co-managing partner until his death.
Bakes is survived by his widow, Jodie; his children, Tia Diaz-Balart and Justin, Kyle and Erin Bakes; grandson Christian Diaz-Balart, and a sister, Judy Peterson.
A memorial celebration of Bakes’ life will be held Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.