Eastern Airlines Acquires Three Used Boeing 777s

Filed Under: Other Airlines

While most airlines around the world are downsizing, Eastern Airlines is continuing to expand its fleet. A few months ago the airline took delivery of its first (used) Boeing 777, and now the airline is acquiring another two 777s. What remains to be seen is what the airline plans to do with these planes…

Wait a second, what is Eastern Airlines?

When I mention Eastern, most people probably think about the original Eastern, which was a major US airline from 1926 to 1991. But then there’s modern day Eastern.

In 2015 the airline relaunched (or more accurately, rights to the name were purchased), as the airline started flying 737s to the Caribbean, including Cuba. Less than two years later its air operator certificate was taken away, and the airline went out of business.


Image courtesy of Cory W. Watts

Then in-mid 2017, charter airline Swift Air acquired Eastern.

Swift Air 737

Then in April 2018, when Dynamic International Airways exited bankruptcy, it acquired the Eastern name, and has now branded itself as such.

Featured image courtesy of formulanone

To summarize, the airline went out of business decades ago, then the name was acquired for an airline that ended up flying for less than two years, then the name was acquired again by another airline, and then another airline acquired the name and rebranded as that. Makes perfect sense, right?

With that out of the way…

Eastern Airlines acquires 777-200s

Prior to this summer, Eastern Airlines’ fleet consisted of up to eight Boeing 767s, including 767-200s and 767-300s (I say “up to” because some of them are stored).

Now the airline is adding three Boeing 777-200s to its fleet, all of which are currently in Kansas City.

Eastern Airlines’ first 777-200 has the registration code N771KW:

  • The plane was acquired on June 29, 2020
  • The plane is 18+ years old
  • The aircraft flew for Singapore Airlines from 2002 to 2015, then for FlyGlobal Charters in Malaysia from 2016 to 2017, and then it was stored

Eastern Airlines’ second 777-200 has the registration code N821JT:

  • The plane was acquired on October 15, 2020
  • The plane is 23+ years old
  • The plane flew for Malaysia Airlines from 1997 to 2015, then for VIM Airlines from 2015 to 2017, and then it was stored

Eastern Airlines’ third 777-200 has the registration code N783KW:

  • The plane was acquired on October 15, 2020
  • The plane is 15+ years old
  • The plane flew for Kenya Airways from 2005 to 2015, and then it was stored

As you can see, the airline has had one 777 for a few months now, and has acquired the other two within the past week.

Eastern debuted its 777 in the full (new) livery on the first plane, and I’m not sure what exactly to make of it:

  • I think I like the colorful engines and tail
  • So many airlines use the block letters, though I can’t help but feel like they look weird on the 777, going over the second door
  • All around I like the livery… I think?

What could Eastern Airlines do with 777s?

Eastern is an incredibly quirky airline. The airline operates charter flights (both for passengers and cargo), though the airline also has some routes that it markets directly, from New York JFK to:

  • Georgetown, Guyana
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • Los Cabos, Mexico

In the past year or so the airline has also proposed some additional routes, like New York to San Diego, and New York to Jinan via Anchorage, though neither of these have materialized.

So, what exactly is going on with these 777 acquisitions? My assumptions in general would be that:

  • Eastern picked up these planes for very little, given what a bargain used aircraft usually are, let alone in the current environment
  • If nothing else, odds are that Eastern could operate these planes quite profitably transporting cargo, even if the configurations aren’t ideal
  • I can’t imagine Eastern has particular scheduled routes in mind for these planes, since the airline isn’t even utilizing all 767s for scheduled flights; the 777s do have substantially more range, but it’s unknown if the airline has true long haul aspirations
  • I’ve heard about Eastern planning to expand to Africa, which could explain this, but again, the airline is all over the place
  • As of now Eastern hasn’t operated a single flight with the 777 it acquired in June 2020

Bottom line

Eastern Airlines has now acquired three used Boeing 777s, which complement the 767 fleet. I’m curious to see what these planes end up being used for. I would assume Eastern is acquiring these planes for very little, and can’t imagine there’s much immediate use beyond cargo flights and some charters.

I believe the first 777 was in a high-density configuration, though I wonder what the most recent interiors are like, especially the former Malaysia Airlines 777.

What do you make of Eastern Airlines’ 777 acquisitions? And what do you make of the livery?

Comments
  1. I just watched a show on a streaming service about the 16 year maintenance service a 777 goes through, this show followed an AF 777 service. It is a big service, and basically takes the plane apart and puts it back together. If that service was already completed on the aircraft in the article, and they picked it up for a good price due to current economics, it might have been a great deal. It should last another 15 years, according to Boeing.

  2. On a different subject maybe you could keep us posted of what becomes of all the used Delta 777’s.

  3. Used 777 are normally cheap since most doesn’t have much afterlife use and often bought for spare parts. Based on current conditions, I would guess they got it for China flights and some sure bet cargo contracts. I’m not sure if cargo alone would be enough to breakeven but I guess cheap 777 can offset that.
    Why China?
    It’s probably on how CAAC restricts number of flights to once a week. The work around if you can’t add more frequencies, add more airlines!!!!.
    And this 777 might have little cycle and hours left that makes it so cheap but still enough fly it until CAAC lifts their restrictions.

    @SKF

    What you describe is called D Check. The interesting thing is AF’s 1st D Check 777 is 15 years?????

  4. @Eskimo That is interesting, perhaps they meant is was the first D Check performed by AF instead of a 3rd party MRO. I watched the show too, it was quite fascinating. It was called Boeing 777: The Heavy Check, available on Prime.

  5. my wife has done some business with them and let’s say they sometimes have trouble paying their bills.

  6. I’m staying away from disease infested & disorderly Trumpistan and this fly by night operator.

  7. They are having at least once weekly a repatriation flight to Buenos Aires, during these months

  8. @Rob

    I don’t think AF uses anyone else. It might still possibly be the first D Check. Depending on policy they might do some other ‘heavy’ maintenance in other cycles or just random time and that everything will eventually run its hours and cycle to fall around 15 years.

    Maybe someone with TechOps knowledge can share some insights.

  9. Having been a heavy user of the old CO/EA to its end, it’s fun to see the EA livery again, just as it was to see a TW livery at the gate in DFW/Terminal C.

  10. Eastern has been running charter flights about once a week from Buenos Aires during the pandemic.

  11. I am not sure why you would pay money to buy the name and then come up with an enitirely new livery.

  12. I’m with Cliburn.

    If the new owners want to distance themselves from the old Eastern Airlines, by getting rid of the iconic ‘hockey stick’ livery, then why keep the old Eastern bird logo on the tail? Seems to me this airline has identity issues.

  13. If the interior is anything like the ex-SIA 777 that LATAM was using a few years ago on its SCL-GRU-SCL route, stay far away. The aircraft featured the old angled SIA spacebeds in business class, many of which did not work and none of which had been well maintained. Worst premium cabin of my life. Mercifully only three hours!

  14. Agree with Cliburn … the 777 should have been painted in the original livery as in the photo of the 737 to get maximum value out of the name and nostaglia. Or in the new color scheme without the block EASTERN and flown it as generic like HiFly.

  15. Makes little sense to use the EASTERN Name yet change the Livery. EASTERN Name and Livery were iconic and this New Livery is Stylish just seems like a Disconnect. I do not see much prospect for This Endeavor…..sounds like throwing Pasta at a wall to see if it sticks.

  16. It’s 100-percent gonna be for military charter. It makes zero sense in any other application.

  17. The only reason to use the Eastern name is to use their color scheme and color. Without that you might as well change the name to something that wouldn’t be as confusing.

  18. People that are mentioning a disconnect between name and livery have to remember the last time the original livery flew was 1990. So most people that might have sentimental connections to that brand are now retirement age. Other than aviation geeks people could care less about the original brand, especially if all they fly is charters and holiday destinations which I think the old livery does not represent well.

  19. I flew on an Eastern charter to the Middle East in September. It was on a 767. Old, dirty, and no IFE system. Not my best flight even though I was seated in a very old manual recliner business class seat. Lots of charter business out there for them.

  20. I start to think their capital expenditure a little too aggressive. Sure the current price for second-hand frames is probably lower than ever, but maintaining these old bones can be costly over the long term. Not to say 777s do not seem to be a good fit for their network. I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable flying with them

  21. Eastern Airlines now is s fleet of 13 aircraft (10) 767 (5) 200 and (5) 300 with (3) 777. They are expanding destinations as well to Buenos Aires Argentina and Santa Cruz Bolivia from Miami 3 weekly. Announced yesterday they will begin service to Santo Domingo from JFK and Philadelphia on or around November 22 for Jfk snd dec 3rd from Philadelphia. Eastern Airlines N771KW will be used for DOD as well as Charter and Commercial service. Currently Eastern is converting a 777-300ER to all Cargo as it is in the works of beginning a large cargo arm. Eastern has also acquired (3) more 767-300ER under its Alta division and (2) more 777-200(ER) with Jet Midwest from JAL.

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