This story was originally published by Chris Sloan and Luis Linares on AirwaysNews.com
Nearly 24 years after the original Eastern shut down on January 18, 1991, the new Eastern Air Lines welcomed home its first new aircraft on December 19. Ex-Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 “The Spirit of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker,” N276EA, arrived from Shannon, Ireland (SNN) via Portsmouth, New Hampshire (PSN) into the airline’s base at Miami International Airport at 3:13 p.m. local time on Runway 8R to a water cannon salute.
The fanfare reached far beyond that of a traditional airline launch, particularly in Miami. Miami was the original Eastern’s headquarters, and the carrier was the city’s largest employer from the mid-1970s until its 1991 shutdown. It was evident that the event and ceremony were an emotional, tear-felt occasion for the new team, and especially for the retirees and former employees of the original Eastern. Their turnout was quite moving.
The airline has 10 Boeing 737-800s on order, with purchase rights on 10 737 MAX 8s. Moreover, the company announced in July 2014 that it had placed an order for 20 Mitsubishi MRJ90s, with rights for an additional 20 of the regional jets. Eastern starts flying in March 2015 and will initially operate as a charter carrier, with scheduled operations due to begin in the next 12 to 18 months following FAA certification.
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