Eastern Airways (T3, Humberside) has applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for permission to codeshare with Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) and add its designator code to wet-lease flights it operates for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) and KLM cityhopper (WA, Amsterdam Schiphol).

To do so, it asked the DOT for an exemption permitting it to engage in scheduled flights between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands under a codeshare arrangement with Delta or any duly authorised US carrier.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that Eastern Airways operates four ATR72-600s, nine BAe Jetstream 41s, two E170s, and two E190s. It additionally owns one E145 and one E135 (both operating for Bristow Helicopters Nigeria (BHN, Lagos)) as well as three BAe Jetstream 41s which are not in operation. It is looking to bolster its fleet by adding up to two additional E-Jets (E190s or E170s) in the next six months. This additional capacity will be allocated to further support its flights for KLM.

However, US carrier Eastern Airlines (2D, Miami International) objected to the British carrier’s use of the word "Eastern". “Use of the trade name ‘Eastern Airways’ [...] may cause confusion to the travelling and shipping public,” the US carrier protested to the DOT. Eastern Airways’ legal name is Air Kilroe Limited.

The US carrier’s parent company, Eastern Air Holdings, owns the trademarks for 'Eastern' and 'Eastern Air Lines', among other branded intellectual property, it said, and is worried about the impact Eastern Airways’ entrance into the US market could have on its business since, under the rules for codeshares and charters, the operating airline’s name must be listed on the flights, extending “the reach of potential markets for public confusion resulting from the holding out of air transportation under the name Eastern Airways.”

It therefore asked the Department to defer any action on Eastern Airways’ application for at least 45 days while the issues are reviewed and addressed privately.

Eastern Airways then filed a new response claiming that Eastern’s request for a delay was unsubstantiated and unprecedented as there are “numerous cases in which the Department had granted route authority to carriers with similar names to others,” for example when Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai International) was granted an exemption despite an objection from a US company with a similar name.

Eastern Airlines, which recently announced the relocation of its headquarters to Kansas City International, operates a fleet of 13 aircraft - one B767-200, three B767-200(ER)s, six B767-300ERs, and three B777-200ERs. Its subsidiary, recently acquired Eastern Air Express (Texas), operates a fleet of four aircraft, three B737-700s and one B737-700(QC).