EASTERN AUSTRALIA AIRLINES (PTY.), LTD.: Australia (1986-2001). Partially owned by Australian Airlines (Pty.), Ltd., this regional carrier, formerly known as East Coast Commuter Airlines (Pty.), Ltd., is established at Tamworth Airport in Tamworth, New South Wales, in 1986. A new office is opened at Sydney with W. A. Horner as manager. Revenue services are inaugurated by Managing Director John C. Roworth’s new entrant with 2 Cessna 404 Titans, 3 British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31s, and 3 Embraer EMB-110P Ban-deirantes. Traffic and revenue figures are not released. Two more Cessna 404s are acquired in 1987.
Operations continue apace in 1988 as the company is featured in the New South Wales Service Review.
The fleet is revised when two Cessna 404s are withdrawn in favor of three British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31s and the first of two de Hav-illand Canada DHC-8-100s.
Beginning in July, the carrier replaces East-West Airlines (Pty.), Ltd. services on routes to Inverell, Glen Innes, Taree, Grafton, and Kempsey. Again, there are no traffic or financial statistics.
In 1989, the company revamps its route network in accordance with the previous year’s Service Review. Another DHC-8-100 is delivered and orders are placed for two DHC-8-300s.
The Dash-300s are delivered in early 1990. When the Norfolk Airlines Group of carriers goes under, Eastern receives temporary permission to undertake scheduled service to their destinations. The two Cessnas and three Embraers are retired and replaced by a fourth Jetstream 31.
The carrier, largest of the nation’s regional carriers in 1991, becomes fully owned by Australian Airlines (Pty.), Ltd. on August 1 when the larger airline purchases the remaining 42% stake held by Managing Director Roworth. Peter R. Ryan now becomes general manager and the company is made a unit in Australian’s Regional Airline Division.
On August 3, the carrier, which has been allowed to retain its name, introduces new services from Brisbane to Darwin and from Cairns to Central Australia and Perth.
EAA now serves 20 destinations in New South Wales, plus Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Lord Howe Island, and the Tasmanian destinations of Launceston and Devonport.
A total of 342,087 passengers are flown on the year.
Ryan is followed into office by Neil Shea in 1992, the same year another Canadian Dash 8 turboprop is purchased and services are started to Coffs Harbor, New South Wales.
Those flights emanating out of Melbourne to Devonport and Lauces-ton are turned over to Southern Australia Airlines (Pty.), Ltd. In September, parent Australian Airlines is acquired by Qantas Airways (Pty.), Ltd.
Passenger boardings increase 9% to 423,111.
In 1993, the fleet includes 3 BAe Jetstream 31s, 1 Super Jetstream 31, and 7 DHC-8-102s, including 2 acquired during the year. The nation’s No. 1 regional adds Dubbo, New South Wales, to its route network. Enplanements for the year total 454,621.
Operations continue apace in 1994 as passenger boardings move ahead by 13.5% to 460,842.
The workforce stands at 290 in 1995, however, the fleet is reduced by one DHC-8-102. Customer bookings climb 5% to 483,886.
Ten new workers are hired in 1996. Passenger boardings for the nation’s second largest regional carrier increase 4% to 506,657.
The employee population is cut 2.2% in 1997 to 290 while enplanements inch up 0.6% to 509,695.
Airline employment stands at 300 in 1998. Destinations visited include Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Dubbe, Grafton, Kempsey, Lord Howe Island, Moree, Narrabri, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, and Taree.
A near tragedy occurs on the evening of November 16 involving a Jetstream 31 just after its departure from the Williamtown Airport north of Newcastle. The aircraft, with 18 passengers and en route SW toward Mount McQuoid, is seen by air traffic control to be in the same airspace as an RAAF King Air approaching from the East Sale military base at Victoria, in the opposite direction. ATC instructs the airliner to level off at 5,000 ft., while the RAAF pilot is asked to level off a thousand feet higher. The civil plane complies, but the military aircraft does not and, consequently, passes directly over top of the Jetstream 31 missing it by just 100 meters. Both military and civilian investigations are immediately thereafter launched.
Flights continue apace during the remainder of the year.
Customer bookings accelerate 4.9% to 535,000.
The workforce, by the start of 1999, has been increased by 12.1% to 325.
When the ATC radio frequency jams at Sydney Airport on March 3 because of the testing of a new Precision Radar Monitor, a catastrophe almost results. Arriving on a service from Auckland, an Air New Zealand, Ltd. B-747-419 with 220 passengers pulls up just 61 m. above the runway after the pilot follows emergency procedures for not receiving final landing clearance. The giant aircraft executes a go-around, by which time the jam has been cleared. Most aboard the Jumbojet are un-aware—until later—that a de Havilland Canada DHC-8-102 from Eastern had been just below them preparing for departure or that they had nearly landed on top of it. Airservices Australia, in its report of the incident, refuses to label the go-around as a “near miss” because safety procedures had been appropriately followed by the Jumbojet’s pilots. It also states that the larger aircraft had passed safely over the smaller at a height of about 244 meters.
The carrier’s last Jetstream 31s are withdrawn over the Christmas period as new de Havilland Canada Dash-8s arrive.
Customer bookings for the year climb 9.9% to 587,000.
Airline employment at the beginning of 2000 stands at 344, a 5.8% increase over the previous 12 months. Employing newly received DHC-8-100s and DHC-8-200s, the carrier operates 17 daily roundtrips between Sydney and Canberra. Two DHC-8Q300s, valued at $29 million, are delivered in September and October.
Eastern Australia will be merged into the super regional Qantas Link in June 2001.
EASTERN CARIBBEAN AIRWAYS: United States (1975-1980).
Bill Bohlke Jr. and Ruth Bohike form Virgin Island Flight School on St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands, in 1960. Fifteen years later in early 1975, they receive route authority to operate scheduled services to local destinations. Employing a Beech 18, daily roundtrip revenue flights commence in March to St. Thomas and Nevis.
The scheduled operation continues apace over the next five years and a de Havilland Canada DHC-6-100 Twin Otter is acquired. The Nevis route is purchased by Coral Air on May 12, 1980, while ECA continues to mount charters.
EASTERN CARIBBEAN EXPRESS, LTD. (EC XPRESS): British West Indies (1999-2001). Partially owned by Gordon “Butch” Steward, chairman of Air Jamaica, Ltd. (2), ECA is founded at St. Lucia in November 1999 to operate scheduled services throughout the eastern Caribbean. Paul Moreira is named president/CEO, with Eugene Pieterse as general manager of the new concern, which is also known as “EC Xpress.” The actual operating base is established at Barbados and orders are placed for three de Havilland Canada DHC-8-102s.
Arrangements are completed in mid-February 2000 to provide connecting flights at Barbados for Air Jamaica, Ltd. (2), Air Canada, Ltd., and Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. Company officials inform the media that they hope to begin operations in April. On February 18, aviation ministers from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, meeting in Castries, offer a vote of support for the new carrier’s start-up.
On March 14, a provisional license is granted permitting the carrier to fly from St. Lucia to Tobago.
Dominica Aviation Minister Pierre Charles indicates on March 17 that he does not believe the new company, which now hopes to start flying on April 11, will adversely affect the revenues of debt-burdened LIAT (1974), Ltd. as some have worried. During this period, Air Jamaica, Ltd. (2) Marketing Director Allen Chastanet takes an increasingly public role on behalf of the regional, often serving as its spokesman. It is he who announces, on March 23, that flights will begin on April 17 using a pair of de Havilland Canada DHC-8-102 3-crew, 37-passenger turboprops that are due for delivery.
Plans to offer a shuttle service from the Hewanorra Airport in Vieux Fort to George Charles Airport in Vigie are scuttled on April 1 after members of the St. Lucia-based Southern Taxi Association protest.
Following delivery of the first Dash-8, which is christened Spirit of Bridgetown, the airline is officially launched in ceremonies at Castries, St. Lucia, on April 17 attended by government and private sector officials. The carrier’s new plane offers a series of scenic flights to St. Lucia and Dominica prior to the launch of scheduled service. With the EC Express aircraft registered in Jamaica, reports reach the International Civil Aviation Organization that these flights are, in fact, commercial services being operated with an aircraft not cleared to offer them. Although the flight-seeing trips were not commercial, the incident brings an end to plans for service inauguration on April 19. The de Havilland is grounded from April 19-20 until the matter can be sorted out. After an entire day of paper processing, the Jamaican inspectors sent to St. Lucia are satisfied by April 22 that all is in order and grant the Spirit of Bridgetown an air operator’s certificate (AOC) of Air Jamaica Express, Ltd., from which the plane had been wet-leased.
The first real revenue service occurs later in the day as the Dash-8 flies from Barbados to St. Lucia and Dominica. The second de Havilland is received the next day and is named Spirit of Castries. Frequencies by the two turboprops, both of which operate in full Air Jamaica colors with EC Express titles, can now be expanded to St. Lucia (five flights) and Dominica (two).
Daily roundtrip frequencies to Grenada are launched on June 5 and to St. Vincent and the Grenadines the next day. Also in June, EC Express officials travel to Paris to discuss a code-sharing pact with Air France and to Atlanta to press the same idea with the chiefs of Delta Air Lines.
Delivery of the third Canadian-built turboprop, the Spirit of St. George's, is delayed until August 1. On August 10, General Manager Pieterse informs The St. Vincent Herald that since its start-up, the new regional has transported 30,000 passengers on 1,900 flights. Plans are made to extend service to Martinique, San Juan, and Tobago by the end of the year.
In late summer, a homepage is opened on the World Wide Web. Although fuel prices begin to become a worry in the fall, Marketing Director Chastanet reports on November 7 that an application has been filed with the Transport Ministry of Trinidad & Tobago which, if approved, will allow the launch of service to that country by December.
During December, a DHC-8-102 arrives on lease from CIT Aerospace. On February 15, 2001, General Manager Pieterse will be succeeded by new President Keith F. Pope, formerly vice president at Canadian Airlines, Ltd. EC Express will cease operations on April 16.
EASTERN CAROLINA AVIATION: United States (1980-1981).
Eastern Carolina Aviation, the FBO at Rocklands, North Carolina, establishes an airline division in 1980 to provide scheduled air taxi flights to intrastate destinations. Employing Piper PA-23 Aztecs and PA-32 Cherokee Sixes, it duly inaugurates daily roundtrips from Wilmington to Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Raleigh. This service is only sustained for a year.
EASTERN EXPRESS COMMUTER NETWORK. See AIR MIDWEST; ATLANTIS AIRLINES; BAR HARBOR AIRLINES; METRO EXPRESS; PROVINCETOWN-BOSTON AIRLINE (PBA); PRECISION AIRLINES; SUNAIR
EASTERN FLYING SERVICE, LTD.: Canada (1956-1987). EFS is
Set up at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1956 to operate air courier and air taxi flights to small communities and bush destinations throughout Atlantic Canada.
Operations from this base and another, at Sydney, are maintained with light planes for two decades until the concern is purchased in 1987 by the owners of Atlantic Airways, Ltd. and merged with it to create the larger Provincial Airlines, Ltd.