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Sun Country’s App is Finally Coming … But So Are Schedule Cuts

In the year 2024, a major U.S. airline and a go-to carrier flying in and out of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) is about to offer passengers something groundbreaking: a smartphone app. 

Yes, Sun Country Airlines is ready to join the 21st century by launching – or, more accurately, re-launching – its own smartphone app. Airline executives said Tuesday the Sun Country app should be available sometime later this month. A spokesperson confirmed it'll be available for both Apple and Android users when it launches.

“I have it on my phone, we’re just working out some final bugs,” CEO Jude Bricker told reporters. 

It's long overdue … and Sun Country knows it. 

All the big U.S. carriers and even Sun Country's low-cost competitors like Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant have offered an app for years. It's increasingly where passengers go to manage their trips, change seats, check-in for flights, and even purchase tickets.

Yet go to search for Sun Country in the Apple Store or Google Play, and the airline is nowhere to be found. Instead, Sun Country customers can check in for flights through an online browser, and then open a boarding pass on their phones – including using Apple Wallet.


sun country boarding pass


It won't actually be a first for Sun Country: The airline previously offered an app but killed it off way back in 2017. Seven years (and a cumbersome process to rebuild the airline's outdated reservation system) later, an app is on the horizon.

“I make a joke that we’re on the trailing edge of technology,” Sun Country Chief Marketing Officer Brian Davis said in a previous interview. “We will … become the last airline in the U.S. to have a mobile app that customers can engage with.”

An app might seem like the bare minimum, but the tiny Minnesota airline simply had bigger fish to fry, transitioning to an ultra-low-cost carrier, surviving the pandemic, taking the company public, and now challenging Delta's dominance at their Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) hub.

After three-plus years of uninterrupted growth coming out of the depths of the pandemic, that final goal might be facing headwinds.


Low Fares & Flight Cuts Are Coming

Sun Country has a problem in Minneapolis: Delta Air Lines. 

Delta is a familiar foe in Minneapolis, the largest carrier at the airport … by far. But as airlines big and small struggled to regain their footing after COVID-19 cutbacks, Delta focused on adding flights at its major hubs – at the expense of Minneapolis. 

Sun Country saw an opportunity to swoop in and turn Minneapolis into “a two-airline market.”

“We're trying to turn Minneapolis into a two-airline market,” Bricker said back in 2022. “If you pay with your own money, you fly Sun Country. If you fly on a corporate contract, you fly Delta.”

Fast forward to 2024, and Delta is back in the game.

Delta has turned its attention back toward its crucial Minnesota airport and other so-called “core hubs” like Detroit (DTW) and Salt Lake City (SLC). They're adding more flights and frequencies, going tit-for-tat with Sun Country's new route additions, and wielding cheaper basic economy fares as a weapon to steal away Sun Country's cost-conscious customers.

The result is a win for travelers who love flight deals … but a negative on Sun Country's balance sheet: Lower airfare. All those extra seats and competition from Delta drove Sun Country's revenue down. Its typically stellar winter-and-spring-break season ended with a whimper, and much of the spring isn't looking much better.

“Fares are a product of capacity. Demand has remained robust, but we just have a lot more seats in the markets,” Bricker told reporters “Mainly, it’s about Delta's growth. And their ability to offer basic economy has been pretty effective.”


delta airlines economy cabin


Read more: In a Price War in Minneapolis, Delta Uses Basic Economy as a Weapon

Supply and demand are everything when it comes to airlines and their pricing. There's only one thing to do when things get out of whack: Start cutting flights.

Fortunately for travelers supposed to fly Sun Country this spring, it's too late for the airline to cut any of those routes. Sun Country's summer flights are looking busy so those are likely safe, too.

Yet Bricker said major changes are on tap in September, saying the airline could reduce its schedule by more than a third as summer turns to fall. Any cuts will focus on flights that aren't filling up – routes around Labor Day and the big fall travel rushes over MEA Weekend and Thanksgiving clearly won't be on the chopping bloc

But otherwise, some travelers flying Sun Country between Labor Day and Thanksgiving – particularly in September – could see some major changes to the flights they booked, maybe even cancellations.

“In these off-peak months, it’s just a real challenge,” Bricker said. 

Rather than flying those jets for low-paying passengers, Bricker said Sun Country will deploy more pilots and planes for chartered service and its cargo-carrying relationship with Amazon.

But it's not all doom and gloom: That flexibility to pivot gives Sun Country an edge that its competitors like Spirit and Frontier lack. And while both those carriers posted a quarterly financial loss to kick off 2024 – in Spirit's case, a whopping $142 million loss – Sun Country continues to churn out profits for nearly two years in a row. 


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