Eastern Airlines Returns…Again
Eastern Airlines 2.0 came to an end in 2017. A second revival is in the works, but there are things that should give fans pause.
Eastern Airlines is back…again.
After the second incarnation of Eastern wound down in 2017 and was absorbed into Swift Air, many thought the name Eastern would never be found in the skies again.
But Eastern is back. In documents filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Dynamic International Airways told regulators that it was exiting a bankruptcy which it entered in late 2017. Dynamic was a charter airline that started entering into scheduled international flights. Dynamic entered some problems and scrapped many of the scheduled flights and began restructuring. Ken Wooley became the sole owner of the airline as it exited bankruptcy. They are now just a charter airline, but hope to get back into scheduled service as a low-cost airline flying to China. It was toward the end of this document was a brief mention that Dynamic would rebrand its 767 wide-body jets with the Eastern name.
Now, when Swift bought Eastern, it also bought the rights to the name. The person that has controlling interest of Swift happens to be Ken Wooley. This is how Dynamic was able to use the Eastern name.
Now, there is much cheering among Eastern fans that there will be an airline with the Eastern name. But before we jump headlong into this new venture, we have to notice the things that could doom this start.
The first thing to know is that Dynamic doesn’t have a good record. Actually, that’s an understatement. Take a look at reviews from Yelp, Skytrax, Trip Advisor and the Better Business Bureau. They are all terrible. Is the rebranding an attempt to cover up the bad press with a new name? To many folk, Eastern is a vaunted name, one that should be identified with quality. Dynamic, at least before bankruptcy was not that. At all.
Now, maybe bankruptcy is a chance to be better. Maybe Wooley’s restructuring was able to whip the airline into shape. But this is something that has to be addressed.
The second issue that gives me concern are some of the routes the scheduled routes went. I’m not an airline maven, but some of the routes established were not going to be profitable. The airline started direct service from Ft. Lauderdale to Caracas, Venezuela in 2015 at a time when other airlines were pulling back because of the political instability. A year later, the fights were ended.
Then there is the odd temporary charter from Ontario, California to Nanchang, China.
Not Nanjing, but Nanchang. (Don’t worry, I’ve never heard of it either.)
Again, I’m no expert and I know these flights also flew out of LAX, but that route just doesn’t scream revenue. Ontario to Beijing or Shanghai, probably. But a city most Americans have never heard of? I’m not so sure.
Other routes included scheduled flights from JFK to Guayaquil, Equador and JFK to Guyana. It just seems like a random route schedule that I can’t make rhyme or reason of.
This version of Eastern plans to have a number of flights to China. If that happens, I hope they are aware that there is a Chinese airline, that is named China Eastern. If I Google Eastern, I will get some entries about China Eastern. I can see China Eastern either suing Dynamic because of the Eastern name or getting the government to do its dirty work for them and maybe block the new Eastern from coming to China because the name is too similar. Think that’s far-fetched? It isn’t. Dyanamic’s sister company, Swift Air is trying to block a Spanish-owned company named Swiftair from flying in the US for that exact reason.
Finally, there is the case of the two original planes from Eastern2 that were absorbed into the Swift fleet. The two 737s now have the Swift name on them, but…there is something odd about that. The Swift name is not painted on to the planes, but they are decals. If these planes are supposed to now be Swift planes, then why not give it a full paint job? Why would you put decals that can be peeled off at some point?
My guess is that the two 737s will somehow be part of Eastern 3’s fleet. Otherwise, those planes would have been painted as Swift planes, and not just have a decal.
So, those are the issues that I’m seeing with Eastern 3. Hopefully, the management is aware of this at Dynamic and is working on improving it’s service and is aware of the legal issues they could face in China. But if they are not prepared and find themselves surprised, they might want to look at my own advice for Eastern 3 written a few months ago:
I could see an Eastern 3.0 that would operate scheduled flights from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico which has always been a major destination for Eastern. There would also be scheduled flights between New York and Miami and New York to San Juan. Additional flights could be Miami to Santa Domingo or New York-Santa Domingo, Miami/New York to Punta Cana. Those are the most obvious places to begin and you would grow from there.
I think that if Eastern 3 is to be successful, it needs to make money where that’s more of a sure bet. Having scheduled flights between the East Coast and San Juan, PR would make sense. Flying to Caracas right now? Not so much.
I also wonder if they could utilize their home base. Could Piedmont-Triad Airport be a kind of hub for the new Eastern? It’s a smaller airport, but it could be a stable jumping off point to Latin American destinations.
Another idea is to use Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) as a hub. It was a hub for American in the late 80s to mid 90s and a hub for Midway Airlines from 1995 until its closure in 2001. Raleigh has a history with Eastern, when the airport opened in 1943, Eastern was the first airline.
Charlotte-Douglas (CLT) was a hub for the original Eastern, but Eastern would have to contend with American, which has it’s second largest hub after Dallas-Fort Worth.
Dyanmic now has this historic name. It needs to be able to live up to the name and not just use it to cover up the sins of Dynamic.
I think those of us who are longtime fans must urge Dynamic to do right and make sure this airline is not simply slapping on a name to make a quick buck, but is the start of something good.
It’s my hope that Eastern 3 will be more sustainable and successful. I hope Dynamic and Swift will live up to the name of Eastern.
Writer’s note: There are some updates to this article since it was written. A recent filing to the Department of Transportation shows Dynamic is for now dropping the China route and focusing on the JFK to Georgetown, Guyana.
The URL for the second iteration of Eastern website is now back up after months of being gone. It is at this time just a screen with the name Eastern and coming soon… What is interesting is that it is sporting the familiar Eastern logo (the circle with blue background with what looks like simple “plane”), but with different colors.