Pennsylvania-based Eastern Airlines expects to enter freighter operations by flying two leased 777Fs in ACMI or charter service, according to a filing today with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Eastern Airlines currently has approval to operate ten aircraft, with six for scheduled flying, according to the filing, but is requesting approval to increase its fleet to eighteen aircraft, with eight in scheduled service. Apart from the two 777Fs, the fleet will also include two more passenger 777-200ERs that the company has purchased and intends to begin flying in the second quarter this year.
Eastern had previously told Cargo Facts that it was looking seriously at developing its cargo business with 767Fs and 777Fs, and was exploring ACMI operations for express carriers as one possibility.
It is currently unclear when or from whom Eastern will lease the two 777Fs. President and CEO Steve Harfst declined to comment on the source of the aircraft, planned routes or potential customers for the 777F operations.
Eastern currently operates most of its routes out of New York’s JFK Airport and Miami Airport (MIA), with some additional service out of Boston (BOS). Harfst told Cargo Facts that planned service ex-BOS has been slow to ramp up due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The carrier operates primarily into the Latin America region, including to Georgetown, Guyana (GEO), Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE), and Asuncion, Paraguay (ASU). Proposed routes in the DOT filing would see the network expand into Belo Horizonte, Brazil (CNF), Quito (UIO) and Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic (SDQ). The airline also operates between JFK and Anchorage (ANC), and from MIA to Toronto (YYZ) via GEO.
The Air Carrier Fitness Division can impose conditions on an air carrier’s operations “such as a limit on the duration of the authority (e.g., for one year), on the number, type, or size of aircraft that the applicant may operate, or on the type of service that can be provided,” according to the DOT.
Eastern, which currently owns five 767-200s, five 767-300ERs and three 777-200ERs, said it expects to complete the certification process to operate 777s by April 1, 2021.
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