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Airline fumbled Patriots deal, nearly grounding team: suit

They should have called the New York Jets.

The New England Patriots are suing flighty air carrier Eastern Airlines for over $22 million after the company tried an end-around — by allegedly charging more to fly the team right before the preseason’s kickoff.

The Pats claim they were intentionally grounded when Eastern — which went belly up in 1991 but whose rights were bought in 2018 by a charter operator — tried to push the team to renegotiate the travel terms.

“If the [New England Patriots] did not pay Eastern more than provided for in the parties’ agreement, Eastern would simply walk away from the agreement, leaving the Patriots without an airplane operator on the eve of the upcoming NFL season, and with no plan in place to transport the Patriots’ sizeable contingent of players, coaches, and other personnel across the country,” a lawsuit for breach of contract alleges.

Eastern gambled and lost, says the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court. The team refused the higher charges and terminated the agreement altogether.

The Patriots are asking for $22.8 million, plus additional damages and attorneys’ fees, citing Eastern’s attempt “to wring additional, unbargained-for compensation” through the ultimatum.

The suit was also brought by 2/25/94, a Massachusetts company that leased two Boeing 767s to Eastern to shuttle the Pats for six NFL seasons. The deflated agreement between Eastern and the parties was only two seasons in before they dropped the ball.

One Mile at a Time dubbed Eastern “the world’s strangest airline” in a blog post last year. The airline has repeatedly announced new routes, only to cancel them after, it noted.

Eastern and the Patriots did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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