Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 1 December.

According to OAG schedule data for this week, Eastern serves 16 airports, down from the 20 on its network ten years ago. There are four airports which were in Eastern’s top 12 in 2007, which have not just fallen from the carrier’s most important airports, but are no longer served. These are Birmingham (was fourth ten years ago), Inverness (eighth), Manchester (ninth) and Bristol (10th). Of those eight remaining airports, all of them have less seats now than they did 10 years ago, with Leeds Bradford fairing best (-4.2%), while the Isle of Man’s weekly one-way capacity has plummeted by 77% over that period. In 2007 Aberdeen was also the airline’s  #1 airport as it is today, Newcastle was Eastern’s second most important operation, with Southampton then in third position. Of the top 12 airports, only Anglesey and Belfast City are new entrants to the airline’s network when compared to ten years ago.

ASKs just a third of 2007 levels

In order to understand just how different Eastern’s route network is today when compared to 10 years ago, it is illuminating to consider its ASKs for this week in both years. In 2007, the airline’s routes in the week commencing 1 December offered 8.37 million ASKs, this year it will provide just 3.15 million, a 62% reduction. While a decade ago Eastern offered 20 city pairs, in the same week this year the regional carrier provides just 15, indicating that frequencies have also been cut on those routes which remain served.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 1 December.

Of the 13 routes listed above, just six were operated in 2007 (highlighted in light green), but these long-standing city pairs have become Eastern’s most important, at least when it comes to weekly seats. Lost from the roll call of routes 10 years ago are the following sectors: Newcastle to Southampton and Birmingham; Aberdeen to Stavanger and Bristol; Isle of Man to Birmingham; East Midlands to Aberdeen; and Southampton to Brussels.

What does the future hold for Eastern?

Eastern’s eventful life in aviation took another unexpected turn into airport ownership, when in August 2012 the group purchased the 82% Manchester Airports Group stake in Humberside Airport. Perhaps more surprising was the announcement in September this year that Eastern would enter a franchise agreement with Flybe, for years its bitter domestic rival, which started on 29 October. The partnership provided a continuation of six branded Flybe routes which were previously flown by Loganair. The sectors now operated by Eastern aircraft are: Sumburgh to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow; Aberdeen to Kirkwall; and Glasgow to Stornoway and Manchester. The franchise deal will see all flights operated by Eastern Airways carry BE (Flybe) flight numbers. Whether this type of agreement will see Eastern through the next two decades is unclear – see you in five years time when we hopefully will see the airline celebrating its 25th birthday.