Eastern Air Lines Group

Eastern Air Lines Group uses the same logo as the Big Four carrier. (Eastern Air Lines Group)

Is Eastern Air Lines making a comeback? Miami-based Eastern Air Lines Group announced Wednesday that it had filed papers with the U.S. Department of Transportation as a first step in launching a new air carrier.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. Eastern was one of America's historic Big Four carriers in the middle of the last century.

The company says it's not affiliated with the former Eastern Air Lines, which operated between 1928 and 1991. But it has its old headquarters  in the airline's former base of operations at Miami International Airport, and its logo looks the same.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to launch an airline bearing the iconic Eastern Air Lines name," Edward Wegel, president and chief executive, said in the statement.

The company's website says a group of airline managers got together in 2009 to buy the defunct airline's "intellectual property" with the intent of relaunching the brand. It hopes to assemble a fleet of A319s and A320s for service.

The company filed what's called a certificate of public convenience and necessity Tuesday as the beginning of its certification with the Federal Aviation Administration, the statement said. Certification can take 12 to 18 months.

A rendering of one of its proposed planes on the website bears the name "Spirit of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker," a nod to the World War I flying ace who became general manager of Eastern. Astronaut Frank Borman, commander of the Apollo 8 mission that orbited the moon in 1968, was one of Eastern's most famous executives, serving from 1975 to 1986.

And as for the Big Four club, the three others carriers are still flying: United, Delta and American airlines.

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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