A bankruptcy judge, conceding that struggling Eastern Airlines would have trouble attracting passengers if it had to plead for cash every few weeks, agreed to let the carrier tap $135 million to keep flying through the winter.

Creditors had tried to block the request for a withdrawal from an Eastern escrow fund, repeating that the airline cannot make a go of it and should be liquidated while there is enough money for an orderly shutdown.But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lif-land said Tuesday that court-appointed trustee Martin R. Shugrue Jr. should be given the chance to see whether Eastern can indeed turn the corner to profitability next year.

Lifland also cited concerns that chaos would occur if Eastern closed down during the holiday season.

Eastern has been in bankruptcy court since a crippling strike in 1989.

After the hearing, Shugrue praised the judge's "vote of confidence in Eastern."

"It's a Christmas present for everybody who works at Eastern," airline spokesman Jim Ashlock said. "You can see what this enables us to do. It takes away the uncertainty and gives us a chance to make good on what we know we can do."

Less than two weeks ago, the judge agreed to give Eastern $15 million and held out the possibility of another $15 million in early December.