Eastern Airlines, which ceased operations in 1991, is born again and will fly between JFK and the Caribbean and South America starting in spring 2020.
It’s the latest comeback for the airline, which was folded into the old Continental Airlines, which in turn was folded into United Airlines.
According to the travel trade publication Travel Weekly, the latest incarnation of Eastern Airlines is flying weekly Sunday service between JFK and Guayaquil, Ecuador, gatwway to the Galapagos, and will begin twice-weekly flights between JFK and Georgetown, Guyana, on March 5.
The magazine also reports that the new Eastern plans to increase the Ecuador route with a second weekly Thursday flight.
In 1959, Eastern started flying out Idlewild International Airport in Queens, the original name of John F. Kennedy International Airport, better known as JFK.
For a time, the airline headquarters was in 10 Rockefeller Plaza, at 49th St.
The Eastern Airlines brand has a convoluted history.
It began life in 1930 as Eastern Air Transport. World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker was its first general manager.
A generation later, another flying ace became its president – Apollo 8 and Gemini 7 NASA astronaut Frank Borman
In World War II, Eastern joined in supporting the war effort with military support flights connecting Florida, Pennsylvania. The airline added routes to Trinidad in the Caribbean and created its Military Transport Division (MTD) based in Miami.
Eastern declared bankruptcy in 1989 following an industry shake-out after de-regulation the set off an extended labor dispute, and Eastern limped along for two more years, bleeding cash en route..
According to the Miami Herald, at the time Eastern folded its wings, the Miami-based carrier was the second largest employer in South Florida, with more than 18,000 employees, which included 3,600 pilots flying more than 1,000 daily flights, most of them in the Northeast.
One of its most profitable routes, the Eastern Airlines Shuttle between NYC and Boston and NYC and Washington, DC, was sold to Donald J. Trump, who renamed it the Trump Shuttle.
The news conference announcing the $365 Million purchase and rebranding was made at the Plaza Hotel in NYC, which he owned at the time, and lost a few years later in a bankruptcy.
The Trump Shuttle operated from 1989 to 1982, when he sold it at a significant loss to USAir. Read about the crash of Trump Air, how the real estate entrepeneur won and lost an airline, on The Daily Beast.
He also lost the Plaza Hotel in another bankruptcy around the same time
But I digress.
In 2000, USAir, which had bought the rest of Eastern Air Lines, was sold to and absorbed into United Airlines.
In 2015, a new ownership group revived the brand, flying scheduled charter service between Miami and Cuba. That operation failed in 2017.
If you have whiplash from all these airline bakruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, fasten your seatbelt and fly through this fascinating airline history page on Wikipedia.
Remember Allegheny, Braniff, National, People’s Express or Ozark? Pan Am? TWA?
The latest Eastern iteration is the former Dynamic International Airways, which changed its named to Eastern after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in spring 2019.
Dynamic had offered limited charter service alongside a handful of scheduled routes, including flights from New York to Latin America.
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.