US budget carrier Eastern Airlines is looking to expand its fleet with the addition of two Boeing 777-200 freighters. Currently, the carrier mainly operates a fleet of Boeing 767-200s and -300s to Central and South America.
Entering the cargo market
At the moment, Eastern Airlines operates a fleet of 10 aircraft. The majority of these are fairly old Boeing 767 aircraft.
However, the budget, charter, and wet lease airline is hoping to get into the cargo market with the acquisition of two dedicated Boeing 777-200 freighters. The decision was discovered through a filing with the US Department of Transportation as reported by Air Cargo News.
Aviator reports that Eastern intends to enter the two freighters into commercial service sometime in the second quarter of this year, once FAA certification is approved. The airline is expecting the certification process for the 777 freighters to be completed on or before the 1st of April, 2021.
Aggressive fleet expansion
The filing also notes that the carrier has plans to expand its fleet to 18 aircraft. By adding more passenger aircraft as well as cargo operations to its services, the airline hopes to fully utilize its flight crew and maintenance personnel. It mentioned in the filing:
“Given the pandemic, it is especially important that Eastern be right-sized to operate at peak efficiency, which is not possible with the current fleet restrictions…Currently, both flight crews and maintenance personnel are underutilized. For example, Eastern can operate all the new scheduled service referenced below without adding any flight crew, maintenance personnel or infrastructure.”
According to Aviator the following routes represent the airline’s baseline scheduled service:
- New York (JFK) – Georgetown, Guyana (GEO);
- New York (JFK) – Anchorage (ANC);
- Miami (MIA) – Georgetown, Guyana (GEO);
- Miami (MIA) – Toronto (YYZ);
- New York (JFK) – Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE);
- Miami (MIA) – Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE);
- Miami (MIA) – Asuncion, Paraguay (ASU).
Additionally, pending the required foreign government approvals, the airline will include these seven incremental schedule routes:
- New York (JFK) – Quito, Ecuador (UIO);
- Miami (MIA) – Quito, Ecuador (UIO);
- Miami (MIA) – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ);
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE);
- Boston (BOS) – Belo Horizonte, Brazil (CNF);
- Miami (MIA) – Belo Horizonte, Brazil (CNF);
- New York (JFK) – Belo Horizonte, Brazil (CNF);
Entering the cargo market will be a slight pivot from Eastern’s usual passenger operations. The carrier has contracts with the US Department of Defense (DOD) and adapts its services to government needs for what it calls a “base air transportation solution.”
According to the website, it also wants to offer its services to “companies, professional and collegiate sports teams, colleges, and universities.”
What do you think of Eastern’s expansion to include cargo operations? Let us know in the comments.
Simple Flying contacted Eastern Airlines for comment. However, at the time of publication, no response was received.