The chairman of Sun Country Airlines has fired its president and chief executive following several challenging months for the Eagan-based carrier.
Marty Davis informed staff Wednesday that Zarir Erani, who has led the company since 2015, is no longer with Sun Country. The Davis family, which owns a number of well-known Minnesota companies including Cambria and Davis Family Dairies, bought the airline in 2011.
Davis said in an e-mail to Sun Country staffers that he informed Erani nearly two weeks ago “of my decision to relieve him of his responsibilities.”
Erani will work on technology initiatives in other companies owned by the family, Davis said in the e-mail. Reached Wednesday afternoon, Davis would not elaborate on the move, but did say the decision had nothing to do with the company’s financial results.
In the e-mail, Davis said he has “been working intensely” and is “very close” to finding a successor. Davis said he will serve as interim chief executive.
The decision comes after a several-month review of the airline’s activities and management by owners.
“We have appreciated very much Zarir’s dedication, work ethic and high-character approach to all that has been his body of work at Sun Country Airlines,” Davis told employees in the e-mail. “Mr. Erani is a first-class gentleman and very well-regarded both by myself and our entire board, and, I’m sure, by any of those at SCA that have worked directly with him.”
Erani was well-liked by many Sun Country employees, but he lacked experience in the airline industry. He came to Sun Country from Hallmark Business Connections, where he was chief information officer.
The Minnesota airline has failed to meet monthly forecasts for more than a year, and its financial results reflect that struggle. Sun Country’s 2016 operating income was $16 million, a 41 percent decline over the previous year. Its operating revenue dropped more than 1.3 percent to $511 million, according to its 2016 fiscal filing with the federal government. Davis said Wednesday the company’s as-yet-unpublished first- and second-quarter results for 2017 are showing improvement.
Sun Country has about a 5 percent share of MSP’s passenger traffic, carrying about 1 million people from the airport last year.