Sun Country is one of the United States’ few remaining true niche carriers. They are a hybrid leisure-regular carrier that operates out of Minneapolis St Paul. Most of their routes are to sunny leisure destinations such as Cancun or Ft. Myers. The airline offers a great business class product, according to Live and Let’s Fly. The airline also offers some regular services such as flights to Boston, New York among others. For many years, the airline has fought off competition from legacy carriers such as Delta and ULCCs like Spirit. It seems that after fighting for a long time, the airline’s new CEO has decided to turn the company in a new direction.
Sun Country ULCC Transformation
Sun Country will slowly turn into a ULCC. ULCCs are ultra low cost carriers, in the US these are Spirit and Frontier. They are known for their low fares, but added prices for just about everything. Sun Country’s CEO comes from another ULCC, Allegiant. Allegiant is a leisure ULCC with bases all across the country. I expect the CEO is bringing his knowledge about the industry to transform Sun Country into a more profitable airline. The transformation will take years, and i don’t expect the airline to transform overnight.
What to Expect
As with any other ULCC out there, I expect to see legroom reductions. They will overhaul their computer systems in order to allow for the changes in pricing strategies. With this, expect to pay for just about everything. The airline will remove their first class section. They may keep a few seats and follow along the lines of Spirit’s big front seats, or remove the seats entirely. The CEO also announced they would add new hubs. I don’t know where they would expand to yet. They offer a few flights from DFW and from Ft. Myers. DFW is already crowded by Spirit in terms of ULCC flights. Ft Myers is a small market for the airline to start a hub there. I can imagine them expanding to cities that lack ULCC airlines. Among these, my top contenders would be Detroit, San Jose (CA), and Boston.
The airline will probably order new aircraft for this expansion. They currently fly 737s, and in order to maintain fleet commonality will probably order more Boeing aircraft. As the airline adds new planes, they will begin to announce new routes from MSP and their future hubs.
It makes me sad to see Sun Country transform into a ULCC. The airline is currently the smallest “network carrier” in the US. They have interline agreements with various airlines including Emirates. This signals that the polarization of air travel in the US continues to further expand. With fewer traditional carriers, people will be forced into selecting the big legacy carriers or the ULCCs. With the fight continuing among these, the legacy carriers will expand their basic economy products even more. I am not a fan of this kind of competition, and it pushes the race to the bottom even faster.
What do you think? Do you like Sun Country’s transformation to a ULCC? Have you flown Sun Country? What was your experience? Let us know!
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All images from Wikimedia.