(Corrects to add TWA and remove Delta as 'Big Four' rivals in
By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI Jan 31 A group of investors, betting the
long-shuttered Eastern Air Lines' logo and other trademarks will
jumpstart a new airline of the same name, this week filed
applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation, hoping
to get off the ground in about a year.
The patent on Eastern Air Lines' name and logo was one of
the last assets remaining in the now-defunct carrier's estate,
said president and Chief Executive Edward Wegel.
The new Eastern will operate as a charter "for other
airlines that have scheduling issues or aircraft issues and need
additional craft or for tour operators who want to increase
their lift into the Caribbean into the United States," Wegel
Operations will run out of a building in Miami International
Airport that served as Eastern's headquarters until 1991.
The original Eastern was one of the country's "Big Four"
airlines - along with American Airlines, United
and TWA (which merged with American in 2001) - that dominated
U.S. air travel for more than 50 years.
The airline was formed in 1930 by the consolidation of
several smaller, regional airlines and in the decades that
followed became the first to make regular shuttle flights
between Boston and Washington D.C. and to use jet aircraft.
In the 1980s, weighed down by debt and conflict between
management and labor unions, Eastern was sold to Texas Air,
which also owned Continental, and began shedding employees and
planes to stay afloat.
Eastern filed for bankruptcy in 1989 and ceased flying in
"It's certainly exciting to see that this local icon is
making a comeback," said Emilio T. González, director of Miami
International Airport and surrounding airports, in a statement.
Along with Wegel, the revived Eastern's board includes
Admiral William Owens, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff under former President Bill Clinton, and Joseph DaGrosa
Jr., whose company, 1848 Capital Partners, manages 248 Burger
Eastern plans a common stock offering in the next few months
to raise up to $14 million to cover startup costs, it said in
filings with the Department of Transportation.
It will take delivery of a leased Airbus A320 in late August
in order to finish certification and hopes to add two more to
the fleet within a year.
"More fuel-efficient planes are coming and demand for travel
continues to increase," Wegel said. "It's a good time for
companies like us that want to support the airline business by
providing additional lift and capacity."
(Editing by David Adams and Clarence Fernandez)