Eastern Airways

DC-3 Eastern

Operated from Jul 1973 to Oct 1982

Main Base – Humberside Airport
Founders/Directors – The Leighford Group

This airline initially started out as ‘Lease Air’ flying charters and air taxi services with light twins from Humberside. By 1975, it had taken over the charters of now defunct Humber Airways and with the steady increase in work load, came the requisite increase in the number of aircraft required to carry out these tasks and as such, three Dakotas were purchased in 1978. At about the same time, a name change would come about, with Eastern Airlines becoming the official trading name for this airline. Eventually, services would be expanded further to include oil drilling support, the movement of both commercial and fishing ship crews, newspaper flights and the transport of car spares for the Ford Motor Company, which were freighted in from numerous locations such as Cologne, Saarbrucken and Valencia.

Indeed, it was this very Ford contract that would eventually bring Eastern’s Dakotas to Southend and by the early-80s, they had become a regular sight at the airport. The year 1981 would see the largest amount of charters being run to SEN from the Continent, although by December, all three aircraft had been sold to Air Atlantique and remained at Southend for the duration. It is unclear if Air Atlantique took over the Ford contract, however, some of the Dakota’s could still be seen operating from SEN in Eastern colours until at least the middle of 1982. As for the airline itself, it continued services with Short 330 aircraft. However, in October 1982, the Eastern name finally disappeared when the airline and its operations were absorbed into Genair.


Eastern Airways fleet from 1980 to 1981

(Only those aircraft that were likely to have been seen at SEN are listed)

Douglas Dakota

G-AMPO – 7/78 to 10/81

Sold to Air Atlantique

G-AMRA – 7/78 to 10/81

Sold to Air Atlantique

G-AMYJ – 12/78 to 12/81

Sold to Air Atlantique


Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this airline’s SEN history or indeed, any pictures or paraphernalia that you would like to share? If so, please post submissions below or contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.