Eastern Airlines Applies For DOT Permission To Fly From New York To Wuhan

The airline is reportedly the only non-legacy carrier in the US with scheduled service authority to operate widebody equipment.


  •  Eastern Airlines plans to launch commercial service from New York City to Wuhan, China.
  •  The airline has applied for permission from the Department of Transportation and aims to start the route early next year.
  •  It is unclear which aircraft will be used for the route, and the DOT’s decision timeline is unknown.

Eastern Airlines intends to launch a new international route connecting New York City and Wuhan, China. The flight will reportedly be a scheduled commercial service, despite charter flights accounting for most of its operation.

The proposed long route to Wuhan does come with plans for a stopover. While Eastern has not confirmed details on how it will brand or sell the flight, the carrier reportedly has the authority to sell the flight legs separately.

Only US airline to serve Wuhan?

According to Ishrion Aviation, an independently run brand that covers airline routes, Eastern applied for permission from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday to offer service between New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH). In the filing obtained by AirlineGeeks.com, Eastern said.

If approved by the DOT, the route will be a scheduled commercial service and will begin sometime in January 2024. Additionally, the airline plans to make a pit stop at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) before continuing to WUH. Eastern explained on its website that it has worldwide scheduled and charter authority, meaning it could sell tickets for the JFK-ANC leg.

“Eastern Airlines is a leading widebody aircraft operating specialist with worldwide scheduled and charter authority,” the airline said. “When in need of safe, reliable and efficient charter solutions, Eastern is ready to respond.”

No airline currently flies nonstop from JFK to WUH. China Southern Airlines flies from JFK to Guangzhou, China, where travelers can connect on a flight to WUH. The airline, however, did apply to fly between JFK and WUH pre-pandemic, proposing the route would cover a distance of more than 6,000 nautical miles.

Which plane?

It is unclear which aircraft Eastern Airlines plans to fly the route. According to ch-aviation, it has three active aircraft: two Boeing 767-300ERs and one 777-200ER. Another nine birds are listed as inactive, which includes a 767-200, three 767-200ERs, four 767-300ERs, and one 777-200ER.

A total of 14 aircraft are reportedly owned by companies associated with Eastern, such as subsidiaries, parent companies, or companies controlled by the same group of shareholders.

“Reliable air transportation”

“Eastern has built a reputation for on-time, reliable air transportation with excellent service, both on the ground and in the air,” the carrier explained. “We can provide an air transportation solution specifically tailored to meet your specific needs.”

The timeline of the DOT’s decision to approve the route is unknown. According to Ishrion Aviation, Eastern applied for permission to launch service to Shanghai from JFK last year but did not receive approval until 10 months later. However, the airline has since shelved its intentions to serve Shanghai, shifting its interest to Wuhan.

Simple Flying contacted Eastern for further clarification on Tuesday, but a representative could not be immediately reached.

By Mian Saeed Ahmed khan