Since its first flight to Guyana on March 18, 2020, Eastern Airlines have become the backbone of repatriation flights to and from the country.
When the airline first touched down in Guyana, it was void of any pomp and ceremony as it came on a mission to take stranded Americans back home.
The relaunched U.S. carrier had just began scheduled flight operations in January from New York to Guayaquil, Ecuador and had proposed a similar service to Guyana from the “Big Apple” until the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the plans.
Unlike many mainline carriers with large fleets of parked jets, Eastern’s planes took to the skies throughout Latin America to repatriate stranded citizens. Guyana was no exception, with at least 20 flights operated by the airline touching down in the past five months. Most of the flights originated from the U.S. east coast cities of New York and Miami, Florida.
A note on Eastern’s website states, “Since March 13th, 2020 Eastern pilots, flight attendants, and line mechanics have brought home over 20,000 stranded citizens less than two months after relaunching EAL.”
According to simpleflying.com, the airline reported a load factor of 68% and quoted the carrier’s CEO Steve Harfst saying “On some of the flights, we’ve lost money. Some of the flights, we haven’t. On average we’re probably just barely above breakeven.”
At the time of publication, I was unable to get the total number of Guyanese that were repatriated by Eastern, but using their load-factor, the airline could have transported approximately 3,500 passengers to Guyana.
With such a load factor in the currect climate, it is a win-win for all involved as people get to return to their homeland and the airline gets to keep its planes and crew in the sky. Planes were made to fly and parking them comes at a cost.
There has been a handful of other carriers that operated repatriation flights in and out of Guyana, but Eastern Airlines’ operations far outnumber the others.
With the exception of one unfortunate event when one of Eastern’s plane slid off a taxiway after landing in Guyana, the airline has served the Guyanese community well and several more repatriation flights are scheduled to operate through the end of August.