Published On: Mon, Dec 1st, 2014

EASTERN AIR LINES

Jacob Gelt DekkerOn the 19th of December in Miami, amid pre-Christmas celebrations, Easter Air Lines will raise its glass to celebrate its new lease of life; Eastern was re-launched!

Eastern Air Lines was one of the "Big Four" airlines, along with United, Delta and American, that dominated the passenger airline business in the United States for nearly 50 years. It started flying officially as “Eastern” from and operated until 1991, when it ceased operations during the first Gulf War.

“EASTERN has twenty 737-800 on order, “Ed Wegel, Eastern’s entrepreneurial CEO informed us. With this proven workhorse the revamped airline is planning to conquer the Caribbean, South America and the USA- east coast.

The 737-800 is the best selling version of the successful “Next-Generation 737 family.” Known for its reliability, fuel efficiency and economical performance, the 737-800 provides flexibility to serve a wide range of markets. The single-aisle jet, which can seat between 162 to 189 passengers, can fly 260 nautical miles farther and consume 7 percent less fuel while carrying 12 more passengers than the competing model.

Surinam Airways jumped on Eastern’s bandwagon when it spotted the opportunity. On November 13, 2014, Surinam Airways and Eastern Air Lines Group, Inc. announced a strategic partnership.

“We are very pleased and honored to partner with Surinam Airways, and to support each other as we grow our airlines. Surinam Airways is an excellent operator with a breadth of experience and we expect to share best practices and find common areas of cost reduction and operational support.,” said Ed Wegel, President and CEO of Eastern Air Lines.

Wegel has done what all national flag carriers of the Caribbean failed to do, he created a pan-Caribbean airline that serves all and connects Caribbean island destinations to the desired rich markets of the USA.

For many years, Wegel tried to develop that larger concept bottom up, starting with existing island carriers, but misplaced nationalism and bureaucratic wrangling always got in the way.

Once again, islanders have the choice to exclude a new airlift opportunity, or to embrace it. Jet Blue was welcomed on many islands after local governments and its taxpayers complied with excessive marketing conditions. Now that monopoly is broken with some good old competition that greatly benefits local economies.

So, when will Curacao’s minister of infrastructure sit down with this old-new player and negotiate a deal? Even Insel Air could announce its strategic partnership shortly.

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