Eastern Airlines’ Strange Habit Of Canceling New Routes

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Eastern Airlines is the most unusual real airline in the United States. There’s a lot I don’t understand about Eastern, but nothing is more confusing to me than how the airline keeps putting new flights on sale, and then backtracks.

What is Eastern Airlines?

Perhaps a bit of background would be useful. For those of you not familiar with modern day Eastern, the airline has a fleet of over a dozen Boeing 767s and 777s, all of which were acquired secondhand. The airline primarily operates routes to the Caribbean and Latin America, which Miami and New York being the biggest gateways in the United States.

Eastern Airlines’ current routes (sort of)

On the surface I get Eastern Airlines’ business model, in the sense that the carrier is trying to serve otherwise underserved point-to-point markets. Nonetheless I’ve found the company’s strategy to be strange, given its complete lack of partnerships, rather random approach to adding routes, and frankly how little information there is out there about the airline.

Also, when talking about Eastern, it’s worth acknowledging the history associated with the name. Eastern was of course a major airline back in the day, and ceased operations in 1991.

In 2015 rights to the Eastern name were purchased, though that airline went out of business within a couple of years. Finally in 2018 Dynamic International Airways (primarily a charter operator) purchased rights to the Eastern name, and that’s what modern day Eastern is.

Eastern Airlines primarily flies Boeing 767s

Eastern Airlines keeps canceling new routes

Eastern Airlines seems to be in a habit of announcing new routes, putting them on sale, and then days or weeks later canceling them, well before launch. Can anyone make sense of this practice?

For example, in April Eastern announced a new once weekly Chicago to Sarajevo route, which would have been the carrier’s first transatlantic route. That route came out of left field. Flights were put on sale, and then a few days later they were pulled.

As an isolated incident I wouldn’t read too much into this, but this has happened over and over and over and over. New York to Anchorage? Same thing. Philadelphia to Mexico City? Same thing. New York to Cabo San Lucas? Same thing. Los Angeles to Guayaquil? Same thing. The list goes on and on.

Don’t get me wrong, Eastern Airlines is legitimate, in the sense that the carrier has planes and pays its bills (as far as we know). This isn’t Baltia or Global Ghana Airlines. But it’s also incredibly bizarre to consistently put (seemingly) random new routes on sale, and then change your mind a few days later.

It’s one thing if these routes were canceled after tickets were on sale for many weeks and the carrier wasn’t finding there was much demand, but in multiple cases we’ve seen flights put on sale and then canceled within days of one another.

Is some intern in charge of Eastern’s booking system and loading flights without asking their boss? Is the head of Eastern’s route planning just trying to have some fun? Is someone loading new routes in their sleep? Being vaccinated does NOT mean you can load a once weekly Chicago to Sarajevo route and then cancel it just days later. 😉

Bottom line

Eastern Airlines is a mystery to me. The airline is unique to begin with, seemingly flying under the radar while operating a fleet of wide body aircraft to international destinations.

But what really confuses me is that the airline consistently adds surprising routes to the schedule, starts selling tickets, and then backtracks.

Can anyone make sense of Eastern Airlines’ strategy here?

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  1. Chris

    Seems most likely that Eastern is playing like Frontier and throwing darts on a map and seeing what sticks and cancelling what doesn’t get sufficient loads. I’m sure they’re subsidizing this practice with their charter business and hoping they can get their scheduled operations in the black.

    1. Ben

      @ Chris -- What I find so strange is that in many cases Eastern isn't even waiting long enough to see what sticks. Canceling a flight a few days after it goes on sale doesn't exactly give people a chance to buy tickets.

  2. Mark

    Constantly canceling new routes sounds like a particularly bad business
    model. How are you supposed to trust a company that does that?

  3. Steve

    Sounds very incompetent, very shady, or both. So there’s either no strategy or it’s an underhanded one.

  4. Marcos

    It Sounds to me that everything is transactional with Eastern. A loyalty program might be, a really far out dream with the number of aircrafts they posses.

  5. John

    I think it's pretty clear. It's a money laundering operation, just like mattress firm.

    It will go on out of business eventually, but not before cleaning millions.

  6. Alexander Thomas

    Opening for flights for "unique" passenger(s).

  7. Mickey

    Hi Lucky, so you can confirm 100% that the Sarajevo flight will not happen ?

    1. Ben

      @ Mickey -- I can't personally confirm anything with 100% certainty, but the flight isn't on sale, so that's what it seems like to me.

  8. Bgriff

    In some cases, like NYC-SJD and NYC-ANC, it seems like they identified an under-served route, started to offer it, and then the majors noticed and jumped in and added a bunch of service and so Eastern bailed? If that's the case, it does seem like a challenging business model as long as the majors continue to have a fair amount of spare aircraft capacity.

  9. Lu

    My guess is that it is a front used for money laundering. They could put new routes for sale to give a legitimate reason for a client located elsewhere to transfer large amount of cash in or out of US.

  10. William

    My guess is that Easterns destinations have resulted in poor ticket sales therefore having to cancel the routes. They may not have the funds to keep that route for a while to see it ticket sales would improve? Former Flight Attendant here.

  11. Mark Renshaw

    They may just be banking your money and earning a couple months' interest before refunding it. Could also be laundering money!

  12. John

    @Bgriff I agree. Especially with the ANC/JFK one, because ever since Delta announced the same route, Eastern stopped selling tickets.

  13. Felicia Bois

    They might be afraid of loosing or have not promoted themselves properly to be known

  14. Chase

    If the fares they are “selling” during these short booking windows are on the high side (I don’t know personally), then you can probably bank on it being a front for money laundering. It is an interesting airlines in that they actually have flying aircraft, unlike the other gems you mentioned previously. But something is definitely shady about it.

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Chase

If the fares they are “selling” during these short booking windows are on the high side (I don’t know personally), then you can probably bank on it being a front for money laundering. It is an interesting airlines in that they actually have flying aircraft, unlike the other gems you mentioned previously. But something is definitely shady about it.

Felicia Bois

They might be afraid of loosing or have not promoted themselves properly to be known

John

@Bgriff I agree. Especially with the ANC/JFK one, because ever since Delta announced the same route, Eastern stopped selling tickets.

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