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An Eastern Airlines 767 in the new livery. (Photo: Eastern Airlines)

Eastern Air Lines Lands in Europe

Eastern Airlines has announced its first transatlantic route, which will fly from Chicago to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bold move comes as the U.S carrier continues to chase profitable business opportunities outside of core markets that are well-served by traditional legacy carriers.

Starting on May 28, Eastern will between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Butmir International Airport in the city of Sajarevo. Flights will run once a week and will take place throughout the summer season until September 5, 2021.

The outbound flight leaves Chicago past 7 p.m on Fridays, arriving at Sajarevo just past 11 a.m the next morning. The plane then spends a night at Butmir International Airport, departing back for U.S on Sundays at 8 a.m and arriving at the windy city at 12:00 noon. Flights will be operated by the airline’s Boeing 767s. This marks both Eastern’s first flight out of Chicago and its first venture across the Atlantic.

According to the airline’s website, flights start at $898 one-way, which sure seems steep for a transatlantic flight, considering there are more cost-convenient flight alternatives from the U.S to Bosnia and Herzegovina via a one-stop itinerary with a short connection at a larger European hub. On the plus side, Eastern tickets include up to 70lbs (31KGs) checked luggage for free.

The Pennsylvania-headquartered carrier has 9 active 767s in its fleet, including two Boeing 767-200s and 7 Boeing 767-300s. The carrier offers two classes: a Premium cabin offering lie-flat seats and a standard economy class offering “roomy seats,” as the airline likes to describe its product. There are now in-flight entertainment screens in both cabins, but the carrier does offer content via streaming on passengers’ personal devices.

Hungry to Find its Niche

It’s no secret that Eastern has been working hard to find healthy business opportunities over the last few years. Last year, the airline started regular flights from Miami and New York JFK to Guayaquil in Ecuador. The airline has additional expansion plans to said South American country, as it plans to fly from the same U.S cities to Ecuador’s capital, Quito, starting May of this year. Additionally, there are plans to fly from Los Angeles to Guayaquil, but that route no starting date on the horizon yet.

The airline will also venture further south later in the year as it is set to begin flights from Miami to Montevideo in June. American recently suspended its four-weekly service from Miami to Montevideo, citing low demand. The Fort Worth-based carrier commented that it instead plans to operate flights seasonally during the busier Southern Hemisphere summer season running from November to March.

How busy and profitable will all these new flights still remains a question. So will it be how Eastern will land its strategic plans in a way that it is economically sustainable over time. For now one thing is certain, though: Eastern is trying hard to find its place in the map.

Jose Antonio Payet
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Jose Antonio Payet
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