Hillwood Airways

Eastern Airlines is understood to be buying US charter operator Hillwood Airways, which has four 737-700s.

The airlines are not planning to integrate operations until various parts of the business are aligned, starting with admin and HR, followed by commercial and, finally, operations and maintenance.

Hillwood is based in Dallas Fort Worth, but will relocate to Kansas City, where Eastern is based, trying to leverage economies of scale. The size of the deal has not been made public.

Hillwood is a Part 121 carrier with two passenger VIP-configured 737s, aimed at wealthy travellers. But one of its 737-700s has a cargo door for convertible freight operations. Its website says: “Hillwood Airlines offers versatile, configurable cargo transport solutions and expert operations to accommodate unique client needs and ensure the safe domestic and international delivery of goods. Our long-range Boeing 737-700C BBJ accommodates up to seven pallets and 30,000 pounds of cargo.”

Eastern Airlines is famously planning to semi-convert more than 30 777s to freighters, but the process has been delayed as it awaits certification. The timeline is still unclear, but testing is expected to be under way soon.

Last month, Steve Harfst quietly resigned as president and CEO of Eastern, a position he held for four years after leaving Allegiant, where he was COO.

To replace him Eastern appointed Brian Randow, a private-jet and charter specialist, along with a new EVP commercial, Steve Kasteler, who worked with Mr Randow at charter airline iAero, formerly Swift.

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