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Sun Country Announces Major Route Expansion

Sun Country Announces Major Route Expansion


Ultra low cost carrier Sun Country Airlines is preparing a major route expansion for the summer of 2021 to a variety of leisure destinations within the United States and Mexico. The 16 new routes are as follows, all operated using a Boeing 737 (the only kind of aircraft in Sun Country's fleet):

Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (CVG)May 142/week
MSPIndianapolis (IND)May 282/week
MSPHouston (IAH)May 132/week
MSPHartford, Conn. (BDL)May 212/week
MSPSanta Ana/Orange County, Calif. (SNA)May 64/week
MSPRaleigh-Durham (RDU)May 142/week
MSPJackson Hole, Wyo. (JAC)May 262/week
MSPKalispell, Mont. (FCA)May 262/week
MSPFairbanks, Alaska (FAI)May 291/week
Dallas-Ft Worth (DFW)SNAMay 62/week
DFWPuerto Vallarta (PVR)June 42/week
IAHLas Vegas (LAS)Sept 21/week
IAHCancun (CUN)May 272/week
Orlando (MCO)BDLSept 51/week
MCOINDSept 51/week
San Antonio (SAT)CUNMay 282/week

Of these destinations, Sun Country has never before offered service to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, Hartford, Santa Ana, Raleigh, Jackson Hole, Fairbanks, and Kalispell. The majority of these destinations, as are many route expansions during the pandemic, are popular for vacationers and often have smaller airports. SNA is the closest airport to Disneyland, Jackson Hole is a popular ski destination, Kalispell is the closest airport to northwest Montana's Glacier National Park, and Fairbanks is popular in summer for its view of the northern lights. Rounding out the list are beach destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, and metropolitan airports with slot openings like Hartford, Indianapolis, and Houston.



Photo of N830SY - Sun Country Airlines Boeing 737-800 at GRB
Sun Country recently announced a major route expansion. TheExplorerBlog | Andrew Salisbury



It is also important to consider Sun Country's business model as compared to other airlines, including the legacy carriers. The airline operates not just as a "budget carrier", but an "ultra low cost carrier" (ULCC), where the goal is to make flights as cheap as possible. As a result, the Sun Country fleet only consists of a single type of aircraft, the Boeing 737, and only offers economy class seats. In addition, Sun Country does not use the ubiquitous hub-and-spoke model adopted by most major airlines, instead opting for point-to-point routes. Its only true hub is Minneapolis, where the airline is based. At airports, Sun Country does not own any gates; instead, it leases gates and ticket counters, sometimes even borrowing them for a cheap price from other airlines. Airports with strictly-controlled gates and slots (often due to demand or popularity) are difficult inroads for an airline like Sun Country. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to acquire several slots at SNA.



Photo of N830SY - Sun Country Airlines Boeing 737-800 at GRB
Sun Country's new route expansion comes in the middle of a lull in travelers. TheExplorerBlog | Tyler Neveau



Jude Bricker became Sun Country's CEO in 2017 after the airline had suffered financial setbacks under its founders, the Davis brothers. At the time, they had declared bankruptcy twice and only flew about 2 million passengers a year. Bricker adopted the ultra-low cost measures described earlier after the Davis brothers sold the airline to a private equity firm, the Apollo Group. Due to its unique business model of point-to-point flights to leisure destinations, Sun Country has been successful since Bricker took over. Their only true competition in Minneapolis, Delta, has proven unwilling to try and challenge Sun Country and its low fares. Given the specific demographics of Sun Country passengers, to Delta they are a far more acceptable competitor than Southwest or another legacy carrier. 




Emmett Chung
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