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Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 4:10 pm

Would someone please explain to me why Eastern operated all of these fleet types at or near the same time prior to their demise in the 1980s and bankruptcy in 1991?

Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 727

Lockheed L-1011 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Airbus A300 and Boeing 747

Boeing 757

Any more types?

Could fleet streamlining have helped Eastern? Why would you need all four widebody planes on the market (save the Russian ones)? And why, if Eastern was going downhill, did they order the B757 in the 1980s?
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 4:29 pm

I'm not sure they had the DC-10 when they ceased operations, anyone else know? For sure they were not operating the 747 either.

Their fleet consisted of the A300, L1011, 757, 727 and DC-9s. Back then streamlining airline fleets was fairly unheard of. Eastern's fleet composition then was consistent of the composition of all the majors. The only a/c that could have been eliminated from that mix was the L1011 (and DC-10 if they had that). Even by todays standards that we still have NW, UA, DL and US operating the same number of fleet types as EA back then.

Eastern ordered the 757s before they were really in serious trouble, back in the beggining of the 80s and were actually the launch carrier for the type. Eastern's troubles did not come until many years later when the full impact of deregulation hit.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 9:41 pm

They had the DC-10 in the mid 80's. The 747 I know they had, when I don't know. They also had the:
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 9:48 pm

Eastern had a couple 747's leased from Pan Am for a while. Dont know what routes they were used on.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 9:52 pm

I do not believe Eastern's mix of aircraft types forced the company into bankruptcy. Just look at the other major airlines in the US in the late 1980's... fleet commonality became a decisive aspect in the 1990's when product families appeared with Airbus and Boeing.

Eastern operated DC-9s, B727s, B757s, A300s and L-1011s when operations were ceased. Theres no difference to other large US airlines at that time. Eastern had the DC-10 and B747 on short-term lease back in the 1980's and 1970's, respectively.

Most of the people say that its been the Eastern management being unable to operate the airline profitably. I agree to this. May be the guy associated to major US airlines' demises, Frank Lorenzo (Texas Air, Continental, Eastern Airlines), return to the business soon (a good friend of George Bush jr.).

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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 10:47 pm

I think the only reason Eastern operated the DC-10 briefly was to remain competitive with National who had them. Eastern had ordered the L-1011 intially, but production was delayed because of the financial problems at R-R.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 11:12 pm

Eastern purchased, but never received, four 747-100s. TWA took delivery of these aircraft. For a short while, Eastern leased PA 747s t handle seasonal traffice to Miami and San Juan. The L-1011's delivery schedule had been delayed, remember, and Eastern used the 747 to remain competitive.

I believe that the DC-10-30s tht Eastern acquired were meant to be used on their MIA - LGW route.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 11:25 pm

Just a couple of other items to add...Eastern and BA were the launch customers for the 757, placing orders around July of 1978. EA was the first to operate the A-300 in the US after AI cut a deal to introduce the type to North America. The A-300s were to fit between the L-1011 and the 757.

I do remember seeing an EAL DC-10 in MIA in April of 84, just the one time tho.

The demise of EA was caused by a long list of factors, including buy not limited to,
1. Poor managments(Borman & Lorenzo)
2.Charlie Bryan and the IAM
3.Soured relations with customers that drove them away.
4. Horrible morale.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Mon Dec 11, 2000 11:34 pm

Over their history, EAL has seemed to operate too many of some types, such as the L-1049, DC-7, Martin 4-0-4, Electra and 727QC. They had as many as 34 L-1011's. But when the jet age arrived, they deferred delivery positions for their first DC-8's to Delta, and only ordered 16 DC-8-20's to compete with AA (50 707/720) and United at the start of the jet era to really make money. The A300 and 757's were perfect for EAL, but bad fleet planning decisions in the past were a contributing factor in the demise of EAL (not the only one). A good book on Eastern's early history is "From the Captain to the Colonel", 1979, by Robert Serling, available in many libraries. I only flew two segments on EAL in 1986, just before Lorenzo obtained all control. I liked the L-1011's, from LGA-MIA and MCO-LGA. Ralph

RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 2:21 am

They also operated the Boeing 720B.

RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 2:22 am

They also operated Boeing 720Bs, Douglas Super 60 Series DC-8s and 727-100s.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 4:50 am

Don't forget the L-188 Electra. Eastern used them on the LGA-DCA-BOS Air Shuttle as main equipment and later as backup aircraft from the late 60's through the early 80's.

Eastern also operated Martin 404's along with CV-340's. Eastern wanted Martin to re-open the 404 production line, but couldn't get them to do it so they went to Convair for additional short/medium range capability.

They flew DC-7B's side-by-side with various models of the Lockheed Constellation.

Eastern traded their 720's back to Boeing for 722's in the late 60's and early 70's.

I was not aware that Eastern operated the DC-10. Can anyone fill me in on where they got them from and when and where they operated them?

Delta Airlines has the distinction of being the first major US airline to operate all 3 types of first generation widebody passenger jets. In the early 70's they briefly flew 747's, DC-10's and L-1011's. The DC-10's were leased from United until their own L-1011's were delivered.

If you want to see a really messed up fleet, you should check out Northwest (Orient) Airlines from the 40's through the mid 60's. If it flew, they operated it at one time or another.

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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 8:50 am

I don't recall EA ever leasing DC10's from UA, (but my memory is not what is use to be). I do know that EA operated three X-AZ DC-10-30's for international routes. All three aircraft eventually ended up with CO as ships 064,067, and 068.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 8:58 am

Eastern operated 3 DC-10-30 aircraft for a time, to operate the Miami-London service. As stated above, the planes ended up with CO. (it was during the Texas Air period). The needed the DC-10s since EA's L1011-1 aircraft were not suited for the transatlantic flight.
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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 9:27 am

Easterns fleet mix at the time was quite sensible even for todays standards, with DC9's, 727's, 757's, A300's, 1011's seating some 120, 145, 180, 240 and 300 passengers, that was not that bad of a fleet composition.

The fleet was surely not the reason the airline folded. Customer service was quite good at the time too. Anyone remembers the She Crab soup? delicious!

History I'm afraid, I hate to recall the lineup of EA A/C at Hartfield that seemed to last forever.  

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RE: Eastern Airlines Fleet?

Tue Dec 12, 2000 11:06 am

Fleet composition was not a factor in the demise of Eastern. The company had been plagued by bad management and also union problems, which affected the everyday running of the airline. They were crippled by a strike not too long before their demise.

All of these hit passenger confidence, scaring many people away from flying with Eastern.

Over time these problems became so overwhelming that it was almost too late to do anything to correct the downward spiral.

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