This Iconic Airline Might Finally Fly Again

Eastern Airlines has quietly been developing a new website and business plan.

This Iconic Airline Might Finally Fly Again

This time around, Eastern plans to make its base New York–JFK.

Photo by Carlos Yudica

Good news for fans of Eastern Airlines: The once-popular airline is awaiting Department of Transportation approval for routes to Anchorage, Guayaquil (Ecuador), Georgetown (Guyana), and Jinan (China) and might soon fly again commercially. All flights would be from the airline’s proposed hub of New York–JFK.

“In support of the development of our new corporate website and the promotion of our new business plan, we have been working very hard getting the new Eastern Airlines ready for take-off,” wrote Eastern Airlines CEO Steve Harfst in a letter to airline employees, as reported by Airways Magazine.

Founded in 1926 as Eastern Air Lines, the carrier was an immediate success, eventually building hubs in Miami, Atlanta, and New York. After it filed for bankruptcy protection in 1989 and ceased operations in 1991, Eastern Airlines changed owners several times. Most recently, the airline has been focused on charter flights and “wet leasing” its fleet of Boeing 767-200/300 planes. (After the Boeing 737 MAX planes were grounded, Eastern operated flights for carriers affected, like the Toronto-based Sunwing Airlines.)

For its new flights, Eastern is looking to add to its fleet: The carrier will launch with second-hand Boeing 767-300 planes and by May 2020, Eastern Airlines is reportedly looking to have at least five “used” Boeing 777-200 planes. Pending permissions and aircraft acquisition, Eastern Airlines officials have said that they’re eyeing the end of 2019 for South America flights and that flights to China would begin in 2020.

No flights are currently for sale on Eastern’s revamped website, which has a new logo, but there is information about everything from tarmac delays to refunds, cancellations, and changes. The “About Us” section provides a glimpse into the airline’s new rebranding, however: “Eastern Airlines was launched by seekers, explorers . . . and above all, fliers. Our passion for aviation is unmatched in the universe. We pay attention to every detail, from the tiniest mechanical check to the locally-prepared meal served to the smiling customer in seat 17B.” Your move, Pan Am.

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Katherine LaGrave is a deputy editor at Afar focused on features and essays.
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