In this era of airlines merging, folding and cutting back flights and routes, it’s refreshing to hear of a legacy carrier returning to the skies.
Eastern Airlines, a major American airline from 1926 to 1991, relaunched on January 12, 2020 with a flight from Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador to Terminal 4 at New York City’s JFK International Airport, their first flight since recently relaunching operations.
The new iteration of Eastern operates a fleet of eight wide-bodied, twin-aisle B-767 aircraft configured with 30 premium economy seats and 212 economy seats. The Guayaquil, Ecuador to New York service offers one weekly round trip flight departing Guayaquil on Sundays, and Eastern has scheduled a second roundtrip on Thursdays that will begin in March. Their Georgetown, Guyana to New York service will begin on March 5th, 2020 with twice-weekly service, Sundays and Thursdays. They also intend to announce the start of nonstop flights from New York City to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with a start date in Spring 2020.
“Our goal is to provide low fare, on time, hassle free air transportation to underserved international markets,” says president and CEO Steve Harfst. “Many of our targeted markets do not have non-stop service to the U.S. today so our service will give opportunity for more people to explore and travel.”
For decades Eastern dominated air travel between New York and Florida; Many Boomers and Gen Xers recall flying Eastern as a child on their first flight to Orlando to go to Disney World. However, Eastern began losing money as it competed from no-frills airlines like People’s Express and eventually folded in the early 1990s. In 2017 iAero Airways (formerly Swift Air) acquired the company’s trademarks and intellectual property.
While most airlines focus on logistics of the journey including seat pitch or in-flight amenities, Harfst points out that Eastern focuses on the destination. “We have positioned our company as an ‘Explorer’ brand,” he explains. “And whether someone is traveling to/from home, to/from loved ones or to/from an international market to the U.S. for any other purpose, our mission is to bring back to our passengers the sense of awe and wonder of air travel by providing them compelling value and time.”
Fares are available on the website, goeasternair.com and through their call center. They are also in the process of expanding ticket sales to the major travel aggregators including Skyscanner, Kayak, Travelzoo and DoHop as well as travel agencies and the three major Global Distribution Systems--Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport. Eastern’s tagline “NoBagLeftBehind” reflects the most liberal baggage policy on the market: the first bag is free in economy and the first two bags are free in premium economy.
Their fleet is also available for short-term or long-term charter programs and can fly non-stop connecting cities and continents with a 12+ hour range, customizing the travel experience with choices of inflight service, catering and beverages.
While Eastern Airlines will retain the iconic “stick figure” logo, their main logo is now modeled after topographical maps; dark blue, light blue and golden yellow symbolize the sky, sea and sun. According to the website, the main map logo “is not tied to any one geographic location but represents the universal space we share as global citizens.”
Eastern is currently offering introductory one-way fares from JFK to Georgetown, Guyana as low as $169 USD. Seats are limited and restrictions apply, check the website for more details.
“We are not trying to be the old Eastern, it was an iconic airline and has its own place in aviation history,” Harfst says, “And while we are proud and respectful of the name and what it once was, we are focused on charting a new course for our version of Eastern.”