Wegel Hopes To Resurrect Once-Legendary Airline
Given the current
state of the US economy, now may seem a most unusual (okay, we'll
say it, flat-out awful) time to talk about the resurrection of a
storied US carrier... but that hasn't stopped growing speculation a
group of investors may soon attempt to bring back Eastern
The Wall Street Journal reports -- with a measure of disbelief
-- a story circulated by travel newsletter Tripso notes "a group of
former Eastern Airlines employees and an investor group are
exploring the rebirth of Eastern."
Tripso cites a letter recently sent to former Eastern employees,
by Ed Wegel... airline financier, and CEO of Eastern Airlines Inc.
In that letter, Wegel reportedly told Eastern aficinados his group
recently "concluded a deal with the Eastern Airlines estate to
acquire the name, trademarks and affiliate names (including Eastern
Express and Eastern Shuttle) for the purpose of re-starting the
airline as a scheduled airline."
This isn't the first time someone has tried to resurrect
Eastern, since the original airline went out of business in 1991.
For that matter, it's not even the first time Wegel has tried to do
so; last spring, Wegel told the South Florida Business Journal his
group had a deal in hand for Eastern's assets and trademarks, and
hoped to restart Eastern by this summer. Not much else was heard of
the deal after that.
This time around, Wegel says "We have developed a business plan
for the re-start of Eastern which leverages off of Eastern’s
core strengths while using all of the lessons we have learned from
all of the start up airlines and the restructuring of all of the
legacy carriers over the past 18 years."
For its part, the Wall Street Journal is skeptical Eastern will
fly again, particularly in these trying economic times. But the WSJ
does allow that "with Wegel's background in airline financing,
maybe he knows something we don't."
If nothing else, Wegel brings a fairly diverse background to the
table... serving various roles at carriers including Mesa Air
Group, Atlantic Coast Airlines, BWIA (the national airline of
Trinidad) and Chautauqua Airlines. He served as CEO at the latter
two, each for two-year terms in the late 1990s.
The rebirth of Eastern seems to be a personal quest for Wegel.
His first airline job was at the carrier, back in 1985.