The New England Patriots (NEP), an American football team, have filed suit against Eastern Airlines (2D, Miami International) in the New York Southern District Court in Manhattan, claiming at least USD22.8 million in damages after the airline allegedly failed to fulfil its contract to provide air charters using two leased B767-300ERs for six seasons of the team's National Football League (NFL) away games.

According to the complaint filed on October 3, 2023, the NEP, along with 2/25/94 LLC, the company that leased the aircraft, is seeking double or treble damages, along with reimbursement for attorney's fees, accusing the airline of commercial extortion under the Massachusetts Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

They claim that Eastern Airlines, halfway through a six-year contract in July 2023, tried to force the Patriots into renegotiating their existing contract by presenting an ultimatum, demanding more payment than what was initially agreed upon, or terminating the contract, which would have left the team without an air service provider on the eve of the upcoming NFL season, and with no alternative plan in place to transport its sizeable contingent of players, coaches, and other personnel across the country.

They claim no contractual basis for Eastern Airlines' demand but that the airline was gambling on the Patriots paying more rather than facing the last-minute crisis of finding a new charter airline. However, the NEP parties terminated the contract. They now claim no less than USD22.8 million in damages due to having to find a replacement air services operator for the remaining three seasons.

According to the June 29, 2020, contract, the B767-300ERs to be dry-leased to the team were N36NE (msn 25193) and N225NE (msn 25194). Both are currently stored at Fort Worth Alliance, according to the ch-aviation fleets module. The contract was supposed to have run from July 2020 through February 21, 2026.

ch-aviation has reached out to Eastern Airlines for comment.