After 23 Years, Eastern Air Lines Hopes To Rises From The Ashes To Fly Again

Consumers could have another option when looking for their next flight. After more than 20 years away from the tarmac, Eastern Air Lines Group filed paperwork this week to begin service.

The airline, which last flew in 1991, has begun the long process of gaining approval to begin service by filing applications with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Association, CNN Money reports.

Although the approval process can take up to 18 months, officials with the airline hope to begin flights as early as December.

The Miami-based airline would begin as a provider of charter services and work up to scheduled service when more investors come on-board, Ed Wegel, Eastern Airline CEO tells CNN Money.

Eastern Air Lines was founded in 1928 and earned a reputation as the major carrier along the East Coast. The airline filed for bankruptcy protection in 1989 and stopped service as a result of labor unrest and a drop in air travel following the Gulf War.

The group of former airline personnel purchased rights to the Eastern name and logo from bankruptcy court in 2009, but couldn’t begin the process to restart service until receiving several millions of dollar from investors.

Even with strong name recognition and a rich history, Eastern Air Lines faces an uphill battle in today’s airline industry. Four major carriers – American Airlines, United Continental, Delta Air Lines and Southwest – control 80% of the air traffic in the United States.

Additionally, the FAA has revised a number of air travel rules that make things tougher on smaller airlines. A new requirement for longer rest periods for pilots has already wreaked havoc on small airlines; JetBlue had to ground more than 300 flights during a snowstorm earlier this year to abide by the new rule.

Still, smaller airlines have been making up ground recently. In order for American Airlines and US Airways to complete their merger last year, the Department of Justice required they give up several gates and slots at busy airports. JetBlue and Southwest came out the big winners in that deal nabbing most of those slots.