Eastern Airlines Backtracks On Transatlantic Sarajevo Flight Plans

Eastern Airlines no longer has any transatlantic flights in its schedule. A month ago, the airline announced the launch of flights from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but tickets were pulled from sale just days afterward.

Eastern Airlines AirFi IFE
Eastern has stopped selling tickets to Sarajevo. Photo: AirFi

Eastern halts transatlantic plans

Exactly a month ago, Simple Flying reported the news that Eastern Airlines is launching its first-ever transatlantic flight, which was also its first flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

The route was going to be from Chicago to Sarajevo (SJJ), the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a country that has a notable diaspora in the US states surrounding Chicago.

However, just days after the route was put on sale, Eastern stopped selling tickets on this route. Even now, several weeks later, tickets are still no longer on sale.

Eastern Airlines Backtracks On Transatlantic Sarajevo Flight Plans
It looks like Eastern might not be flying to Sarajevo this year after all. Photo: Eastern Airlines

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So what were the route plans?

When Eastern was still selling Chicago-Sarajevo and Sarajevo-Chicago tickets, its booking system indicated the following information regarding its first planned transatlantic route:

  • Flight 2D972 was to leave Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) at 19:05 on Fridays to arrive at Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ) on Saturdays at 11:05
  • Flight 2D973 was to leave Sarajevo at 08:00 on Sundays to arrive in Chicago the same day at 12:00 (mid-day)

Flights were due to start May 28th and run until September 5th, 2021. The route was going to be a one-weekly rotation. The break of almost 24 hours between the outbound and the inbound flight in Sarajevo indicated that the same crew would be operating the entire rotation.

When the route was still on sale, Eastern Airlines’ schedule indicated it would be operated by its Boeing 767-200ER aircraft. Tickets could be booked in three classes: Explorer, Pathfinder, and Globetrotter. All three of these fare types include one item of hold luggage.

Eastern Airlines 767
Eastern Airlines was due to fly to Sarajevo with Boeing 767 aircraft. Photo: Eastern Airlines

Would Chicago-Sarajevo-Chicago flights have been successful?

Eastern’s Chicago-Sarajevo flights were always going to be an unlikely prospect, even if tickets might eventually go back on sale again. Perhaps most importantly, this would have been Eastern’s only route from Chicago. The airline has no aircraft there.

No airline has ever operated flights between the US and Bosnia and Herzegovina before, and Bosnians require a visa to enter the United States. This means that the route would have to rely heavily on one-way traffic. The added difficulty here is that the Bosnian diaspora in the United States is concentrated more in St. Louis, Missouri than it is in Chicago.

According to data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyser, less than 10,000 passengers traveled between Sarajevo and Chicago in 2019. That is well below the typical minimum of 30,000 that is considered necessary for a long-haul route.

If Eastern ever does launch this route, it would have to contend with tough competition from Star Alliance airlines Croatia Airlines, Austrian, and Lufthansa, and from Air Serbia. All of these airlines offer much more flexibility, more frequencies, continuity of operations, and, perhaps most importantly – cheaper prices than Eastern had listed for this route a month ago

Do you think Eastern will start selling tickets for flights between Sarajevo and Chicago again any time soon? Will the route launch happen? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.