Sun Country Airlines

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Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airlines logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedJune 1982; 39 years ago (1982)
Commenced operationsJanuary 1983; 38 years ago (1983)
AOC #SCNA220K[1]
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programSun Country Rewards
Fleet size43
HeadquartersMinneapolis, Minnesota, US
Key people
  • Jude Bricker (CEO)
  • David Siegel (Executive Chairman)
  • Jim Olsen (founder, first CEO)
Operating incomeIncrease US$ 619 million (2018)
Net incomeIncrease US$ 23 million (2018)
ProfitIncrease US$ 30 million (2018)
EmployeesAbout 1,800

Sun Country Airlines is an American ultra-low-cost passenger and cargo airline, and the eleventh largest in the US by passengers carried. Based at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport with headquarters on airport property, Sun Country operates 86 passenger routes between destinations in the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, with focus city operations at Dallas/Fort Worth and Portland, Oregon.[2] On the cargo side, Sun Country is a contract cargo operator for Amazon Air.


A Sun Country DC-10 at Las Vegas International Airport in 1992
A Sun Country 737-700 inside the Minneapolis hangar

Early years and bankruptcies (1983-2008)[edit]

Sun Country began flight operations in January 1983 with a single Boeing 727-200 jetliner.[3] The airline's original staff consisted of sixteen pilots, sixteen flight attendants, three mechanics and one office person. A number of the original employees had previously worked for Braniff International Airways, which ceased operations on May 12, 1982.[4][3] The company's founder and first President/CEO was Captain Jim Olsen, who also acted as Chief Pilot. His wife, Joan Smith-Olsen, acted as Chief Flight Attendant and Head of Inflight Operations.[5]

In 1988, its headquarters were located on the grounds of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport.[6]

In 2001, the company suspended operations due to financial troubles.[7]

In July 2006, the airline was acquired by Petters Group Worldwide and Whitebox Advisors.[8]

Following the replacement of interim CEO Jay Salmen by Stan Gadek, former CFO of AirTran Airways, Sun Country was nearly finished by the major recession of 2008 and the revelation of financial fraud.[9] The airline furloughed 45 of its 156 pilots and scaled back its summer schedule due to rising fuel costs. Sun Country indicated it had hoped to get up to $50 million in loans or other financial help from the state of Minnesota and the airports commission.[10] In September 2008 the carrier reduced, and in some cases eliminated, flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It also began charging for the first checked bag.[11] At the end of September 2008, Gadek called for a 50% pay-deferral to all remaining employees. Tom Petters resigned after an FBI probe discovered that the airline had suffered financial fraud on a massive scale.[9][12] Following this, the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time, on October 6, 2008.[13]

Rebuilding and Davis brothers ownership (2011-2017)[edit]

New seats on the Sun Country Boeing 737-800 in January 2019. Arranged in an all-economy layout.

In July 2011, Sun Country was bought out of bankruptcy for $34 million by the Davis family, owners of Cambria, a Minnesota-based countertop company.[14][15] Marty Davis, CEO of Cambria, became Chairman.

In 2015, the Sun Country board hired Zarir Erani as President and CEO.[16] The airline had a net income of $27 million in 2015, followed by a 41% drop to $16 million in 2016.[16]

In July 2017, after more than a year of missed monthly earnings projections, Davis replaced Erani as interim President and CEO, with Erani moving to other duties within the Davis family of companies.[16] Jude Bricker, previously of Allegiant Air, was appointed as CEO one week after Erani stepped down.[17] As part of its strategy, Sun Country had begun to move towards being a "no frills" airline.[18]

Apollo Global Management Ownership (2017–present)[edit]

On December 14, 2017, the Davis brothers announced they would be selling the airline to funds affiliated with New York Based Apollo Global Management for an undisclosed amount.[19]

On December 17, 2019, Amazon Air bought a minority stake in Sun Country from Apollo, with plans for the airline to operate cargo flights under the Amazon Air brand.[20] As Sun Country's passenger model is heavily leisure focused, this deal is designed to help stabilize revenues during non-peak seasons.

New Sun Country all-economy seats featuring 183 seats on board. All seats have in-seat USB power.

Corporate affairs[edit]

Business trends[edit]

The key trends for Sun Country Airlines are (years ending December 31):

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Revenue ($m) 235 254 202 239 308 361 410 518 616
Net profit after tax ($m) −35 −21 1 11 4 15 2 2 27 16 28 27
Number of employees (at year end) 862 1,312 c.1,830 c.1,500
Number of passengers (m) 1.6 1.9 1.8 2.1 2.1
Passenger load factor (%) 70 72.6 80.2 78.5 80.4 81.2
Number of aircraft (at year end) 19 26 30
Notes/sources [21] [21] [21] [21][22] [21] [21] [21] [23][24]



Sun Country destinations (February 2019)

As of December 2020, Sun Country Airlines flies to 55 destinations and operates 88 routes throughout the Caribbean, United States, Mexico and Central America.[32][33] Many Sun Country destinations are seasonally served as demand grows an falls throughout the year. The airline additionally provides charter service for the United States Armed Forces[34] and NCAA football teams.[35]

Top domestic markets[edit]

Top domestic markets (October 2019 – September 2020)[36]
Rank Airport Passengers Market share (%)
1 Minneapolis/St. Paul 812,180 8.60%
2 Las Vegas, Nevada 163,260 1.22%
3 Fort Myers, Florida 96,430 2.89%
3 Orlando, Florida 90,950 0.72%
5 Phoenix, Arizona 82,310 0.60%
Other 628,250 0.14%

Interline agreements[edit]

Sun Country has an interline agreement with Condor.[37]


Sun Country Boeing 737-800 wearing the newest livery
Sun Country Boeing 737-800 on seasonal lease from Transavia wearing Transavia livery with Sun Country titles
Sun Country Boeing 737-800(BCF) operated for Amazon Air, with Sun Country titles at the cockpit windows

Current fleet[edit]

The Sun Country Airlines fleet consists of Boeing 737 Next-Generation airplanes. Additional aircraft are leased seasonally between Transavia and Sun Country. During its slow summer season, Sun Country occasionally leases planes to Transavia, and during Transavia's slow winter season, the airline leases planes to Sun Country.[38]

In December 2019 Sun Country announced they would begin operating cargo flights for Amazon. Sun Country will initially operate ten cargo jets for Amazon Air.[39] The airline operated their first cargo flight for Amazon in May 2020.[40]

Sun Country Airlines fleet[41]
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
First Best Standard Total
Boeing 737-700 1 136 Charter only[42]
Boeing 737-800 30 30 156 186
Cargo fleet
Boeing 737-800BCF 12 Cargo Operated for Amazon Air[43]
Total 43
Sun Country Boeing 727-227 wearing the original livery

Historical fleet[edit]

Sun Country Airlines historical fleet[44]
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Boeing 727-200 1 2000 2001
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 6 1993 1998
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-15 4 1994 2001
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30F 2 1995 1997 Leased from Gemini Air Cargo
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 6 1986 1991 Disposed to Northwest Airlines


In-flight services[edit]


Sun Country used to offer First Class and Economy seats, but when the airline was sold to the Apollo Global Management, they changed the airline to a low cost carrier which means an all economy seat arrangement. Sun Country now offers three variations of economy seats: Best, Better, and Standard.[45]

Frequent-flyer programs[edit]

Sun Country ran its first frequent flyer program, Sun Country VIP Club, from 2004 to July 2007, when it was replaced by Ufly.[citation needed] Ufly was replaced by Sun Country Rewards from November 2018.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration - Airline Certificate Information - Detail View". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. ^ "Here Comes the Sun: Inside Sun Country's Transition to a Low-Cost Carrier". 2018-12-14. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  3. ^ a b Falcus, Matt (July 28, 2013). "A look at Sun Country Airlines".
  4. ^ "About Sun Country Airlines". Sun Country Airlines.
  5. ^ "Sun County Airlines". Braniff Pages. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  6. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 26, 1988. 117.
  7. ^ "The Braniff/Sun Country Connection". The Braniff Family. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  8. ^ "Petters Group Worldwide and Whitebox Advisors Acquire Sun Country Airlines" (Press release). Sun Country Airlines. October 31, 2006. Archived from the original on November 14, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Fedor, Liz (28 September 2008). "Sept. 29: Sun Country workers face temporary 50% pay cut". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 6 October 2008.
  10. ^ Muehlhausen, Nicole (August 6, 2008). "Sun Country asks MAC to help keep company flying". KAAL. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  11. ^ "Sun Country trims flights, and fares push higher". Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  12. ^ Dunbar, Elizabeth (September 30, 2008). "Petters resigns amid fraud investigation". International Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  13. ^ Fedor, Liz (October 6, 2008). "Sun Country Airlines files for bankruptcy". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  14. ^ David Phelps (July 21, 2011). "Cambria deal gives new life to Sun Country". StarTribune. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "Cambria Holdings paid $34 million for Sun Country Airlines". The Mankato Free Press. August 3, 2011. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e Painter, Kristen Leigh (2017-07-06). "Sun Country Airlines CEO Ousted; owner Davis steps in as he seeks successor for Erani". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  17. ^ Painter, Kristen (10 July 2017). "Sun Country names Jude Bricker as new CEO". Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
  18. ^ Age, The Aviation Bug at a Young; industry, never outgrew it Although none of his family is in the; management, he has always wanted to work in aviation in some capacity He currently in college studying air traffic (December 16, 2017). "Sun Country Airlines Sold to Investment Giant Apollo Global Management".
  19. ^ "Funds Managed by Affiliates of Apollo Global Management to Acquire Sun Country Airlines". Apollo. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  20. ^ Cameron, Doug. "Amazon Looks to Sun Country to Boost Its Cargo Unit". WSJ. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h "After 15 years of turbulence, Sun Country finding clear air". MinnPost. October 31, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "U.S. Domestic Airline Fuel Efficiency Ranking, 2017-2018" (PDF). International Council on Clean Transportation. September 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d e "OST_R BTS Transtats". Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  24. ^ a b "Bureau of Transportation Statistics". Bureau of transportation. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  25. ^ "Former Sun Country owner learned a lesson: 'Don't fly under the radar'". Star Tribune. September 15, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  26. ^ "An IPO for Sun Country? The airline's owner explores options". Star Tribune. August 28, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Sun Country shifts to fleet ownership in cost overhaul". Flight Global. December 13, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "U.S. domestic airline fuel-efficiency ranking 2017-2018" (PDF). The International Council on Clean Transportation (icct). September 2019. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  29. ^ "Sun Country will cut 350 ground workers at MSP, taps Canadian firm to manage". Star Tribune. February 20, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "Sun Country Airlines Sold to Investment Giant Apollo Global Management". AirlineGeeks. December 16, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  31. ^ "U.S. Discount Carrier Sun Country Airlines Prepares for IPO". August 27, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  32. ^ Sun Country Airlines | Destinations,
  33. ^ Sun Country, Inc. (2019-03-20). "SUN COUNTRY DESTINATIONS". Sun Country Airlines.
  34. ^ "Sun Country Airlines – Company History". Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  35. ^ "Sun Country CEO: Future growth plans travel beyond leisure flights". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  36. ^ "OST_R | BTS | Transtats".
  37. ^ "Condor: Announces Interline Agreement With Sun Country Airlines®" (PDF).
  38. ^ "As travelers left stranded, where were Sun Country's planes? Airline's ex-CEO has an idea". Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  39. ^ Josephs, Leslie (2019-12-18). "Amazon picks low-cost airline Sun Country to expand its cargo business". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-12-24.
  40. ^ "Sun Country Airlines starts cargo operations for Amazon". Air Cargo News. 2020-05-11. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  41. ^ "Sun Country Airlines Fleet Details and History". Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  42. ^ "Sun Country Airlines - Low Fares. Nonstop Flights". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  43. ^ Josephs, Leslie (2019-12-18). "Amazon picks low-cost airline Sun Country to expand its cargo business". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  44. ^ "AeroTransport Data Bank". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  45. ^ "First Look at Sun Country's New, Smaller Seats". Thrifty Traveler. 2018-12-11. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  46. ^ "Sun Country is Overhauling its Rewards Program: What You Need to Know". Thrifty Traveler. 2018-11-02. Retrieved 2018-11-02.

External links[edit]