Sun Country Airlines
|Commenced operations||January 1983|
|Frequent-flyer program||Sun Country Rewards|
|Headquarters||Minneapolis, Minnesota, US|
|Operating income||US$ 619 million (2018)|
|Net income||US$ 23 million (2018)|
|Profit||US$ 30 million (2018)|
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. On the cargo side, Sun Country is a contract cargo operator for Amazon Air.
Early years and bankruptcies (1983-2008)
Sun Country began flight operations in January 1983 with a single Boeing 727-200 jetliner. 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. 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.
In 2001, the company suspended operations due to financial troubles.
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. 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. 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. 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. Following this, the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time, on October 6, 2008.
Rebuilding and Davis brothers ownership (2011-2017)
In July 2011, Sun Country was bought out of bankruptcy for $34 million by the Davis family, owners of Cambria, a Minnesota-based countertop company. Marty Davis, CEO of Cambria, became Chairman.
In July 2017, after more than a year of missed monthly earnings projections, Davis replaced Erani as interim President and CEO, with Erani moving to other duties within the Davis family of companies. Jude Bricker, previously of Allegiant Air, was appointed as CEO one week after Erani stepped down. As part of its strategy, Sun Country had begun to move towards being a "no frills" airline.
Apollo Global Management Ownership (2017–present)
On December 17, 2019, Amazon Air bought a minority stake in Sun Country from Apollo, with plans for the airline to operate cargo flights under the Amazon Air brand. As Sun Country's passenger model is heavily leisure focused, this deal is designed to help stabilize revenues during non-peak seasons.
The key trends for Sun Country Airlines are (years ending December 31):
|Net profit after tax ($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|
As of December 2020, Sun Country Airlines flies to 55 destinations and operates 88 routes throughout the Caribbean, United States, Mexico and Central America. 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 and NCAA football teams.
Top domestic markets
|Rank||Airport||Passengers||Market share (%)|
|2||Las Vegas, Nevada||163,260||1.22%|
|3||Fort Myers, Florida||96,430||2.89%|
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.
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. The airline operated their first cargo flight for Amazon in May 2020.
|Boeing 737-700||1||—||—||136||Charter only|
|Boeing 737-800BCF||12||—||Cargo||Operated for Amazon Air|
|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|
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.
Sun Country ran its first frequent flyer program, Sun Country VIP Club, from 2004 to July 2007, when it was replaced by Ufly. Ufly was replaced by Sun Country Rewards from November 2018.
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- Sun Country Airlines | Destinations, suncountry.com
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