What Kept Eastern In The Air

I make no apologies for exhausting every possible alternative to keep Eastern Air Lines flying ("Eastern: The wings of greed," Top of the News, Nov. 11). Independent industry observers such as Frequent Flyer magazine reported in late 1990 that Eastern was providing the best service of any airline in the country.

Its 20,000 employees were the most dedicated that I have ever seen in my 23 years of experience in the airline industry. Our consumers and travel agents were enthusiastically endorsing our new product, as indicated by the upward trend lines that we were experiencing in October.

I will admit that I did not foresee the war in the gulf and its devastating impact on airline traffic.

If anyone believes that the effort to keep Eastern alive was not worthwhile and in the public interest, I suggest that he or she talk to travelers in Atlanta, Miami, and other Eastern cities and ask them to compare the prices they are paying now for air travel with prices when Eastern was a vigorous competitor in those markets. Ultimately, forces beyond our control forced a shutdown of the carrier. In light of current economic conditions, Eastern's liquidation has been extraordinarily successful.

The only reason the creditors continue to have any prospect of a recovery is because of the fine work of Eastern's staff and the dedicated employees who continue to work long hours to put the best face on this sad chapter of aviation history.

It is most distressing to see a magazine of the caliber of BUSINESS WEEK give voice to third-string "Monday morning quarterbacks" who now attempt with hindsight to reinterpret history.

Martin R. Shugrue


Eastern Air Lines Inc.


While the results of Eastern Air Lines' failed efforts to reorganize are indisputably unfortunate in many respects, it is irresponsible to suggest that Eastern's bankruptcy stands as an indictment of the reorganization process. Creditors had a substantial role in the decision-making process, were kept fully and currently apprised of all the facts, were instrumental in decisions to change management and continue the business, and endorsed all but $135 million of the expenditures.

Any accurate commentary on the Eastern bankruptcy cannot ignore the hostile and senseless efforts of the unions to destroy the business, the extraordinary efforts by thousands of dedicated employees who braved the unions' invective to rebuild the airline, and the severe dislocations suffered by the entire industry as a result of deregulation, the severe economic recession, and the Persian Gulf War.

Bruce R. Zirinsky

Weil, Gotshal & Manges

New York

Editor's note: Zirinsky's firm represents Eastern.

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