Wayne-Based Eastern Airlines Plans to Quadruple Its Fleet in a Transition from Frequent Flyers to Freight

Wayne-based Eastern Airlines
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Wayne-based Eastern Airlines is transitioning to freight in pursuit of the burgeoning e-commerce market.

Wayne-based Eastern Airlines plans to more than quadruple its fleet and focus on transporting cargo. The move is in response to the pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce, writes Laura Smythe for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Last year, the airline purchased 35 B777 aircraft. It intends to convert them to cargo-only vehicles to haul lightweight e-commerce freight. The company’s fleet currently comprises 10 767 aircraft that will remain in use as passenger airplanes.

Eastern Airlines launched service out of Philadelphia International Airport at the end of last year. It specializes in nonstop international routes to countries that have limited options for U.S. travel.

According to Eastern Airlines CEO Steve Harfst, however, the low-density e-commerce cargo market is growing exponentially.

“We’re all buying things online that we never thought we would have bought in the past,” he said. “That phenomenon is happening around the world.”

The company, which currently employs 300 people, is hoping to increase to around 1,000 employees within the next three years. The expansion of staff is in response to its growing cargo footprint. Eastern expects to reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2024, when these hires will be in place.

Read more about Eastern Airlines in the Philadelphia Business Journal.