Eastern Airlines: The World’s Strangest Airline?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about Eastern Airlines, which I consider to be the most unusual “real” airline in the world. The airline is based in the United States and has a dozen widebody jets, but does very little with them. Somehow the airline still exists…

What is Eastern Airlines?

Maybe a bit of background knowledge would be helpful. First of all, it’s worth acknowledging the history attached to the name. Eastern was then a major airline (then one of the “big four” airlines) and ceased operations in 1991.

In 2015, rights to the Eastern name were acquired, although this airline went out of business within a few years. Finally, in 2018, Dynamic International Airways (primarily a charter operator) acquired the rights to the Eastern name, and that is Eastern today.

For those of you unfamiliar with Eastern’s current version, the airline has a fleet of over a dozen Boeing 767s and 777s, all of which were acquired second-hand. Here’s what the airline describes as its mission:

“Our mission is to bring a sense of awe and wonder back to air travel by offering direct, non-stop flights at the best price to underserved markets around the world.”

In theory, the airline primarily operates routes between the United States and Latin America, and below is the route map from Eastern’s website.

Eastern Airlines route map (so to speak)

While I can theoretically understand the concept of operating routes in underserved markets, the airline hasn’t actually done much of it. Over the past few years, we’ve seen Eastern repeatedly announce routes, only to have them canceled before launch:

  • The airline was supposed to start flights from Chicago to Sarajevo once a week, but that never happened
  • The airline was supposed to fly from New York to San Diego three times a week, but that never happened
  • The airline was supposed to fly twice a week from New York to Jinan via Anchorage, but that never happened
  • The airline was supposed to fly twice a week from New York to Los Cabos, but that never happened

This is just a small sample of the flights Eastern wanted to operate but ended up not doing.

Am I the only one confused by Eastern?

The above is some history from Eastern Airlines, so what is the current status of the airline? For some reason this morning I thought of the airline and went to the website.

Currently, Eastern’s only route for sale is a once-monthly route from New York (JFK) to Guayaquil (GYE). Yes, once a month. That’s it. No other routes. The airline has 15 wide-body jets and a once-monthly route. Hmmm…

Speaking of Eastern’s fleet of 15 jets, how much have these planes flown? In recent months, only three of these aircraft have operated flights at all:

  • Eastern acquired five Boeing 777s in late 2020, but has not operated a single flight on any of those jets
  • Only three Boeing 767s have operated flights in recent months with registration codes N700KW, N703KW and N705KW
  • It seems to me that almost all of these flights were military charters as the routes included Guam to Anchorage, El Paso to Camp Springs, Kuwait City to Portsmouth (via Shannon), etc.

Anyone fancy cracking what’s going on here? I mean this is a real airline with real planes. This is not Global Ghana Airlines. The airline has had a sizable fleet for several years now, but has not been able to operate consistent and regular scheduled flights.

Rather, the airline appears to have a few random charters while maintaining a severely underutilized fleet. I personally see no benefit in Eastern’s point-to-point business model without more connectivity.

There’s also a huge market for charter operators and wet leases, and it seems like the airline would be much better off chasing that. But even there, the airline seems to have very limited business.

While I know these planes were bought for a fraction of what you would pay for a new plane, there is still real money being spent. Who is funding this and how is the airline still in business?

Eastern Airlines has not yet flown their Boeing 777

bottom line

I can’t think of a stranger “real” airline than Eastern. The US carrier has a fleet of over a dozen widebody jets, but only three of those planes have flown at all in recent months, mostly on (presumed) military charters. In scheduled service, the airline currently sells tickets on a once-monthly flight between New York and Guayaquil.

Can anyone explain that, and when will the other shoe fall here?

Also Read :  Alaska Airlines pulls off ultimate beer run in multiple states

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.