His passing has reverberated profoundly in the two worlds in which he was a major figure and a pioneer, books and air freight.
Waterstones said in a statement: “We are very sad to hear that Christopher Foyle, our former chairman, and member of the founding Foyle family, has passed away aged 79. Christopher’s vision inspired the Foyles of today: after taking the helm in 1999, he modernised the business, opening new branches and was instrumental in creating the magnificent new Foyles flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road which opened in 2014.
“Christopher Foyle was an affable and regular visitor to the bookshop who had plenty of stories to share and made time for everyone. He loved unusual words, which he collected in the two-volume Foyle’s Philavery. Our thoughts are with his family.”
James Daunt, managing director at Waterstones, added: “Christopher was an enthusiast. He guided Foyles through its transformation and continued to give his shrewd support after the sale. We will miss him greatly.”
Having been passed over in his younger years as a natural successor to the then chairwoman of Foyles, Christina Foyle, Christopher turned to air freight, did well, and bought his way back into Foyles as chairman.
He founded Air Foyle in 1978 with one Piper Aztec and rapidly grew the company, becoming TNT’s principal aircraft operator and an agent for the giant Antonov 124 freighters, Nick Savvides wrote at thelodestar.com.
Larry Coyne, CEO at Coyne Airways, described him as “a legend” of the air cargo industry and added: “Chris Foyle was an all-round good guy who made deep impressions on people he met and industries he worked in. He was very smart, but always modest despite his many successes. I will remember him for his generosity, his good nature and, most of all, his sense of humour.”
Christopher enabled easyJet to get off the ground in 1995 by lending his Air Operator’s Certificate to the fledgling budget operator.
Later, as Monaco residents, Christopher and Sir Stelios founded the Monaco branch of The Air League, helping many young people along the Riviera experience the joys of flying.
He was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots, a Freeman of the City of London, chairman of The Air League and a trustee of the Foyle Foundation.
Chris Foyle is survived by his wife, Cathy, and three daughters, to whom we extend our condolences