Some airline brands die forever. Others, it seems, go into suspended animation, waiting to be reborn when the time’s right to take to the skies once again.
Which is why, on January 12, a Boeing 767-300ER touched down on the runway at New York’s JFK airport, bringing with it a US brand name that had vanished several years earlier.
Miami-based Eastern Airlines’ inaugural flight to New York from the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil was the first flight to carry the once legendary Eastern name since the failure of the two earlier airlines — the first in 1991 and the second short-lived iteration in 2017.
The flight took some in the aviation industry by surprise, not least because they considered Eastern an unlikely brand to come back from the dead, given the original’s troubled final years.
The new airline has made upbeat claims that its mission is to provide flights to what it believes are “under-served” areas — that currently includes its service to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city, and one to Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.
Steve Harfst, Eastern Airlines president and CEO, is optimistic about both the airline and its name, saying “people remember [it].” It’s “a powerful name.”
But what exactly do people remember?
Is it “the successful story?” asks aviation expert Ahmed Abdelghany. Or the airline’s “failure in the late ’80s?”