James Tolzien, the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Air Lines Group, Inc., has confirmed Eastern Air Lines (2009) (EAL, Miami Int'l) will be merged with fellow US charter operator Swift Air (USA) (WQ, Phoenix Sky Harbor).

In an email to employees seen by ch-aviation, Tolzien said Eastern Air Lines had had to make some difficult decisions in recent months in order to remain afloat. In order to keep costs down, the carrier retrenched 137 of its 240-strong workforce and disposed of surplus capacity (one B737-700 and two B737-800s). In addition, various unprofitable contracts, such as flights to Guyana and Puerto Rico, as well as its proposal to adopt Amadeus IT Group technology and build a new MRO hangar were also dropped last month.

As such, though several parties have pitched proposals to Eastern's board concerning mergers and even buy-outs in recent months, none was adopted until that of Swift Air which was signed on Friday, June 16.

Under the deal, Eastern Airlines will become a part of SwiftAir whose fleet of sixteen active aircraft - two B737-300s, one B737-300(F), nine B737-400s, two Legacy 600s, and one Legacy 650 - will grant Eastern access to significant benefits through its larger economies of scale and flexibility.

Eastern will transition its two B737-800s to SwiftAir which is already in the process of adding the type to its operations specifications. Once the transfer is completed, expected in late August/early September, all of Swift’s B737-800 fleet will be branded with the Eastern name and logo.

Tolzien added that some employees would be offered positions in the newly merged entity while others would be offered redundancy packages.