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Sun Country adding MSP-London summer flights

  • Article by: SUZANNE ZIEGLER
  • Star Tribune
  • March 16, 2010 - 9:10 PM

Sun Country Airlines is making a summer foray into Europe.

The Mendota Heights-based carrier said Tuesday that it's offering service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to London's Stansted Airport from June 11 to Aug. 15. The flights will leave MSP on Fridays and return on Sundays.

Sun Country said it received long-range certification earlier this year to fly its twin-engine Boeing 737-800s across the Atlantic. The planes will refuel in Newfoundland. The certification allows twin-engine planes to fly long-distance routes that previously had been off-limits.

Spokeswoman Wendy Williams Blackshaw said Sun Country isn't the first U.S. carrier to get the certification for 737s but is the first flying out of MSP to do so.

She said the push to Europe is part of a strategy to diversify business. The airline added Sun Country Vacations late last year and launched full-service cruise service last month.

Minneapolis travel expert Terry Trippler said that Sun Country is going to be competing in a tough market but said the carrier is smart to bite off only what it can chew by sticking to a limited schedule. "They're wise to say they're only going to do it one day a week [each way]," he said.

Stansted, which is smaller than Heathrow or Gatwick, is about 30 miles northeast of central London.

The flights went on sale Monday with introductory fares of $399 each way, excluding fees. Sun Country last flew transatlantic charter flights in the mid-1990s, Williams Blackshaw said.

Other carriers, including Iceland Air and British Airways, fly from MSP with stops at Reykjavik, Iceland, or Chicago's O'Hare. Delta Air Lines is the only carrier offering nonstop service between MSP and London, where it flies Boeing 767-400ERs into Heathrow Airport.

Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707

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