Eastern Airlines Acquires Used Boeing 777

Filed Under: Other Airlines

While most airlines around the world are downsizing, Eastern Airlines is in the process of expanding its fleet with a used Boeing 777. I initially wrote about this a bit over a month ago, but the airline is now showing off its new livery on this beautiful jet.

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 acquired a 777-200

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

Eastern Airlines has now added a Boeing 777-200ER to its fleet. The plane has the registration code N771KW, and it’s an 18+ year old plane with quite a history. The aircraft initially started flying with Singapore Airlines in 2002, but has operated with several other airlines since then.

Most recently the plane flew for FlyGlobal Charters in Malaysia. As far as I know, at that time the airline had 406 seats in an all economy configuration, as it was used primarily for pilgrimage flights between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

The plane is currently in Victorville, California, though presumably will enter service at some point in the not too distant future.

Yesterday Eastern debuted its new 777 in the full (new) Eastern livery, 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 a 777?

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

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 this 777 acquisition? My assumptions in general would be that:

  • Eastern picked up this plane 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 this quite profitably for cargo, given the current circumstances, even if the configuration isn’t ideal
  • I can’t imagine Eastern has a particular scheduled route in mind for this plane, since the airline isn’t even utilizing all 767s for scheduled flights; the 777 does have substantially more range, but it doesn’t seem like 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

Bottom line

Eastern Airlines has acquired a used Boeing 777, which complements its 767 fleet. I’m curious to see what this plane ends up being used for. I would assume Eastern got a deal on the plane, and can’t imagine there’s much immediate use beyond cargo flights and some high density charters.

As much as I’d like to fly Eastern, I wouldn’t get too excited about the interior of this plane, because I believe it’s in an all-economy configuration (that could change, but it seems unlikely).

What do you make of Eastern Airlines adding a 777 to its fleet? Do you like the new livery on the 777?

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.

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