By Daniel Morley
Sun Country Announces Expansion with Schedule Extention
Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines has announced another route expansion, including service to seven new cities. The expansion also comes as the airline is extending its schedule into fall 2022, as the airline prepares for a big summer. The new routes and destinations including the airlines’ first foray into Canada and will have the carrier operating 100 routes to 80 destinations across North America. The full eleven city expansion includes four seasonal routes that are returning for next summer.
The new routes for Sun Country will be operated out of the airline’s primary hub and operating base, Minneapolis/St. Paul. The returning cities to the route map will be Asheville, NC, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Savannah, GA. Asheville will be operated year-round, twice a week. Service to New Orleans and Savannah will resume on April 7 and will be operated four times a week to New Orleans and twice a week to Savannah. Milwaukee returns June 2 and will also operate twice weekly.
The new cities to Sun Country’s route map are Buffalo, Burlington, Charleston, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Spokane, and Vancouver. All routes will be operated twice weekly either on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, and Sunday. The route to Vancouver will be the airline’s first in Canada. Flights will begin operating in the beginning of April or the beginning of June depending on the destination.
Sun Country has been slowly expanding over the past year, despite the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic. The leisure-oriented airline has used its unique position to be able to expand services, despite the downturn in travelers. Historically the Minnesota-based carrier has exclusively catered to leisure travelers from Minnesota. However, the carrier has used the pandemic to offer leisure flights from other midwest cities to warm-weather destinations.
The airline is offering flights to destinations in Florida and Arizona from cities like Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Madison, and Duluth. The airline has leaned heavily on, seasonal leisure routes, with only about 10 routes operated year-round, according to the airline’s website. Sun Country has also been buoyed by winning a contract with Amazon to operate Boeing 737s as freighters to support the online marketplace delivery efforts. This has helped to keep the airline flying, even when demand collapsed in March 2020.
Despite the airline’s expansion, the airline stays close to its Minnesota roots. Earlier this year Sun Country announced a revamp to the inflight service offerings, heavily focusing on offering passengers local brands such as Caribou Coffee and Dotz Pretzels. The airline also began offering inflight entertainment with many offerings shot or set in Minnesota.
The latest route expansion keeps Sun Country poised to capitalize on what is expected to be a strong summer season after the past two years in the pandemic.