Eastern Airlines makes its return after 23 years

First Eastern Airlines plane arrives at MIA since 1991

MIAMI - For the first time in more than 23 years, an Eastern Airlines plane landed at Miami International Airport Friday.

The Miami-based airline stopped flying in January 1991 when South Florida's largest carrier went into bankruptcy. But it has been reborn.

"I think this is great to see the colors back in the air because it was a great airline," former Eastern Airlines flight attendant Lucia Sprawka told Local 10 News.

After flying over Miami Beach, the plane made its historic landing and was welcomed with water cannons.

"This is more than a thrill," former Eastern Airlines flight attendant Juliana Scott said. "This is a rebirth of our family coming back together."

For now, this is Eastern Airline's only plane. But the airline plans to add 20 more planes and will begin charter flights in March. The company has 50 employees, but that number will take off as the flights do.

"As we add each airplane, we will add somewhere between 30 and 40 people," Eastern Airlines President and Chief Executive officer Ed Wegel said. "So by the end of next year we anticipate having seven or eight airplanes in operation, so we'll be at (400) to 500 employees."

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson was an Eastern Airlines flight attendant from 1972 to 1987.

"It meant a lot to me," Edmonson said of the airline's return.  "As a kid growing up I used to look at the flight attendants and say, 'That's what I am going to be.' And that was one of the first jobs I applied for."

Asked if she had any plans to get back in the air, Edmonson said, "As a passenger, yes."

When charters begin they will service the Caribbean, Mexico and northern portions of South America.

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