Eastern Airlines (EAL, Miami International) says it has secured B777 feedstock in preparation for its entry into the cargo market - the express package shipment sector specifically.

In a statement, the passenger carrier said it has acquired thirty-five B777s which it will convert into true, Class-E maindeck freighters that will be capable of carrying a full load of volumetric express cargo non-stop between Asia and the United States. However, Eastern Express Freighters will not be subject to the restrictions on cargo commodities that are imposed on conventional passenger aircraft used as freighters - preighters.

"Due to enter service in the first quarter of next year, the Eastern B777 Express Freighters will be first to market," it said. "The innovative design converts the main deck cabin of the widebody B777, the -200, -200ER, and -300 series into a true cargo aircraft. This allows the entire volume of the main deck cabin to hold low-density, express freight cargo."

According to Steve Harfst, Eastern Airlines President and CEO, future derivative plans call for the inclusion of a palletized loading system and an Express Main Deck cargo door. Eastern Air Cargo will offer general cargo sales, cargo charters, ACMI/wet-leasing and dry leasing.

The P2F STC engineering will be undertaken by Foxtrot Aero LLC, another of Eastern Air Holdings' subsidiaries.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows Eastern currently has two B777-200ERs in its fleet alongside one B767-200, three B767-200(ER)s, and six B767-300ERs all of which are/have been used for passenger flights.