Eastern Airlines (2D, Miami Int'l) is planning to complete the certification of its first B777-200(ER) within days and induct a further two of the type within six months or less as it explores new scheduled and charter market opportunities, Chief Executive Steve Harfst told AirlineGeeks.

"We’re looking worldwide. The B777 expands our range circle significantly... We’re not in the business of competing with big airlines. We want to fly niche routes that aren’t big enough for them and focus on markets that we can serve with limited to no competition," Harfst said.

The carrier added its first B777-200(ER), N771KW (msn 28530), in June 2020. The 18.7-year-old ex-AL!FQC twinjet has been stored at Kansas City Int'l since then as the airline completes its type certification. A further two units of the type - 15.3-year-old ex-Kenya Airways N783KW (msn 33683) and 23.4-year-old ex-VIM Airlines N821JT (msn 28410) - were acquired by Eastern Airlines in mid-October and will be inducted within the next three to six months.

Harfst underlined that the airline is eyeing new markets in various geographies once travel restrictions are lifted. He stressed that the mix of older B767s and B777-200(ER)s would give Eastern Airlines a competitive edge due to their low ownership costs.

"We like the B767 and B777 fleet because they cycle through the market and their value comes down to a point where our low cost of ownership allows us to put those aircraft into markets where they otherwise would not be profitable," he explained.

While historically rooted in the charter market, Eastern Airlines commenced scheduled operations in January 2020. Its scheduled network currently encompasses services out of New York JFK and Miami Int'l to the Caribbean and South America, namely to Port au Prince, Guayaquil, Asuncion, and Georgetown Cheddi Jagan. It has recently applied for traffic rights to Quito Int'l, Santo Domingo Las Américas, Buenos Aires Ezeiza, and Santa Cruz Viru Viru.

Besides the B777s, Eastern Airlines' fleet consists of one B767-200, three B767-200(ER)s, one B767-300, and four B767-300(ER)s.