Tallahassee Journal

Eastern Air Lines hopes to launch flights in mid-March

Eastern Air Lines hopes to launch flights in mid-March

Eastern Air Lines could be flying paying passengers from U.S. airports as soon as March. But it will likely take longer before the airline tries to moves into regularly scheduled service alongside the likes of American, JetBlue, Spirit and others.635566100901915450-DISPATCH-EASTERN-1226

Edward Wegel, CEO of the start-up effort, says the re-launched Eastern plans to start by providing charter flights. Eventually, Wegel says Eastern hopes to move into regularly scheduled commercial passenger service. Wegel tells the Herald that Eastern will position itself “somewhere in between” the ultra-low-cost carrier niche – which includes airlines like Spirit and Frontier – and the traditional legacy carriers, such as American, United and Delta. “Were going to try to stay out of everyone’s way as long as possible and try to work with them,” he tells the Herald. “In the short term, we’ll try to compete with no one, but in the long term, we’ll compete with everyone.”

In the meantime, aviation observers are taking a wait-and-see approach about Eastern’s long-term prospects in an industry in which most start-ups fail. For every airline like JetBlue that has begun flying since deregulation in the 1970s, there are dozens that have launched and shut down. Many don’t even make it through a full year of flying. Among those examples: the recent collapse of PEOPLExpress, another outfit that attempted to revive a brand from America’s aviation past. That carrier, based in Newport News, Va., launched flights in June of 2014 and then abruptly halted flights in September. Efforts to resume flights have so far remained unsuccessful.

As for Eastern, it has successfully raised some start-up cash, but adds that it plans to raise at least $50 million more before launching non-charter passenger flights.

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