Airbus A300B4 - Eastern Airlines
As one of the 'Big Four' Eastern Airlines was among the leading airlines in the USA during fifty years, until its bankruptcy in 1991. The airline existed since 1929 but became a victim of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. With its high cost profile it was not capable to survive the much more competitive environment since that year. It lost market to new low-fare competitors and had difficulty to match more efficient Delta Air Lines at its most important hub Atlanta. Eastern Airlines struggled on until its last flight on 18 January 1991.
Eastern was often one of the first customers for new airliners. It was launch customer for the Lockheed TriStar and it introduced the Airbus A300 in the US skies. Because of doubts in the US about the safety and reliability of such a large airplane with only two engines, Eastern made an exceptional deal with Airbus Industrie. It first leased four aircraft of the type from Airbus Industrie for a six-month period to try them out. The experiment, which started in 1977, appeared successful. The aircraft proved to be reliable and far less fuel-thirsty than the TriStars in the Eastern fleet. The airline subsequently ordered 19 aircraft and bought the four A300s it had on trial. The newly ordered aircraft were delivered between 1978 and 1983. The Eastern order was a major breakthrough for Airbus Industrie, ending a period that it harldy sold any aircraft.
At last Eastern operated a total of 34 of the type. The airline introduced a silver finish on their aircraft in the 1980s, but the Airbuses required grey paint to protect the skin panels of the fuselage against corrosion. The picture shows an Eastern Airlines Airbus A300 parked in the desert after the bankruptcy. This particular aircraft flew again for Carnival Airlines in 1994 and later became a freighter aircraft for European Air Transport in Belgium in the colours of courier DHL.