The Saga of Eastern 3.0
Eastern Airlines 3.0 can’t put the disaster that was Dynamic Airways behind them.
The third incarnation of Eastern Airlines has been going for about a year now. How are things going?
I’m not sure. The drabs of information, I’ve noticed tell me things aren’t going well. What we do know is that Eastern is starting to hit some turbulence. Eastern recently applied to fly into Georgetown, Guyana from JFK. A few days ago, we learned that the Guyanese government rejected Eastern’s application.
Why? It has to do with Eastern’s predecessor: Dynamic Airways. If you remember, early 2018 saw Dynamic emerge from bankruptcy and take the Eastern name. Now we know why it took that name: because Dynamic had a terrible record, something that the Guyanese government knew rather well:
However, according to the Guyana Chronicle, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson said that President David Granger’s Cabinet had rejected Eastern’s application given the financial difficulties it had experienced during its years as Dynamic International Airways. At the time, Dynamic had the dubious reputation of canceling flights on the Georgetown-New York JFK route. It was fined millions of Guyanese dollars by local authorities while affected passengers sought refunds, some of whom claim they have yet to be reimbursed.
So, it looks like the Eastern name was used to give Dynamic a “new start.” But you really can’t hide the past, you can only work to be better. In chatting with others on social media, it seems that Dynamic’s past reputation is affecting Eastern. I have to think that the leadership at Eastern thought placing the name of a historic airline on the mess that was Dynamic would solve things. It didn’t.
In some ways, this was a pretty cynical move. It doesn’t show much imagination. It seems like Dynamic wanted to do what it had been doing, but with a different name. Put on the Eastern name and everything would be fine! But it hasn’t been, because anyone in the industry or government officials will remember just how crappy Dynamic operated.
This leaves us with questions: what did the leadership at Eastern really want? Was it to launch something new? Why did they want to run an airline? Why use the name of a defunct airline? Was this all about trying to memory hole the Dynamic name?
It doesn’t matter if you call it Eastern or Dynamic, the company has a big issue to deal with: a public relations problem. Dynamic has a bad reputation that has to be corrected. Just putting on the Eastern name will not cut it. If people had a bad experience with their trip, they need to see what is wrong and make it right. If workers or governments don’t want to have anything to do with Eastern, they have to make real changes so that they will want to do business with Eastern again. Dynamic’s name means dirt to many. So, the people in Greensboro need to take a good look at themselves and make some real changes.
The other part of the public relations problem is that Eastern has not had an effective communications strategy since the name change a year ago. Actually, there hasn’t been any communications. They have been supposedly working on a website at two different web address and neither are up and running. There is no social media. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram. There are no press releases. Nothing. Nada. Zip. There is nothing that allows Eastern to tell its story if it has a story worth telling.
If you don’t have an effective media strategy, someone else will tell your story. The problem right now with Eastern is that it is shackled with Dynamic’s story. The leadership should have corrected this on day one, but the lack of anything shows this was never a priority to them.
Last year I wondered if Eastern was trying to make a fast buck instead of building a good reputation:
I want to see this version of Eastern be successful. But I am starting to wonder if this endeavor is about making a fast buck as cheap as possible. I hope I’m wrong about that.
When the Eastern name came back in March of last year, a number of aviation geeks were excited and eager to support Eastern. The “Wings of Man” were going to fly again. But 14 months later, you have to wonder if Eastern really wants to be a viable airline. I want to believe Eastern will get its act together and become successful. But I’m not sure it will.