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Eastern Airlines: Is the Third Time the Charm?

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

The original Eastern Air Lines operated from 1926 until it collapsed in 1991. The second version operated charter flights from Miami between 2015-2017 and the latest iteration plans on introducing scheduled service to South America in Q4 2019.

Boeing 737-800 of short-lived "New Eastern" (2015-17) in retro livery - Photo Credit: Markus Mainka/123rf

Last May Eastern Airlines, LLC (formed out of the bankruptcy of Dynamic International Airways in 2018) announced they were moving their High Point, NC headquarters to Wayne, PA as they prepared to transition from a wet lease/charter only operator to a scheduled service carrier. Certification as a 14 CFR Part 121 air carrier is a heavy lift, but Eastern Airlines, LLC hopes to have this accomplished by Q4, 2019.

The business plan for the new Eastern involves flying point-to-point service from their proposed JFK/New York hub to Miami and South America utilizing the eight Boeing 767-200/300 aircraft currently in their fleet. According to Airways Magazine, The company also plans on adding used 777-200’s to their fleet in 2020 for long-haul flights to Jinan, China. The company has launched their new website, which brands the new Eastern as an “Explorer’s” airline. Airline history purists will likely be unhappy with the new abstract geographic logo and lack of the ubiquitous Eastern “hockey stick” branding.

According to the company website, the inaugural routes from JFK will include Georgetown, Guyana and Guayaquil, Ecuador with non-stop flights to Miami “coming soon.” The new Eastern promises premium seating with more legroom, selection of a locally prepared meal and the ability to carry “all” of a passenger’s checked bags. The website doesn’t specifically say whether passengers will be charged for meals and checked baggage.

The track record for the rebirth of a legacy airline hasn’t been particularly good. At least two unsuccessful attempts have been made to re-launch Pan Am and unfortunately the new Eastern launched in 2015 only lasted two years. During this period, they managed to secure lucrative charter contracts with the Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants. They even carried Vice-Presidential Candidate Mike Pence during the 2016 campaign. You may recall the well-publicized runway excursion at New York-LaGuardia in October 2016. The second Eastern also offered charter service from Miami to Cuba, an advantage that evaporated when Cuba was opened to a myriad of competitors. In recent years, U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba have been tightened.

That said, we wish the team at Eastern Airlines, LLC the best of luck as they prepare to offer scheduled service under the long and storied Eastern Airlines banner. Hopefully, in this case the third time is the charm. We reached out to the company by e-mail for an update, but didn't receive a response by the time of publication. We will update this post as more information becomes available.

Source(s): Airways Magazine, Eastern Airlines


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