With new owners in the wings and a renewed hunger to grow, Sun Country Airlines on Thursday announced one of the biggest route expansions in its history as it tries to woo budget-minded vacation travelers.
The Eagan-based carrier will add seven routes and beef up connections between the Twin Cities and Mexico this summer, boosting the number of nonstop flights in its network to 50.
While modest compared to larger carriers, Sun Country said the “significant growth” would offer easy access to major vacation hot spots, including Orlando, Las Vegas, California’s wine country and Austin, Texas.
The bulk of the new nonstop flights run outside the Minneapolis-International Airport, a noteworthy move that signals Sun Country’s push to broaden outside its hometown hub.
New routes include those between Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas; Portland, Ore., and Orlando; and Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska.
The carrier has added nonstop flights to two Mexican cities: between Austin, Texas, and Cancun International Airport, and between San Diego and Los Cabos, on the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
The addition of those routes will give Twin Cities-based travelers the option to make connections to either Mexican city via Austin or San Diego.
Existing nonstop flights from Minneapolis to Cancun and Los Cabos will not be affected, said Kelsey Dodson-Smith, a Sun Country spokeswoman.
The airline also expanded existing seasonal routes between the Twin Cities and Santa Rosa/Sonoma County in California.
In December, Sun Country said it was being acquired by the New York investment firm Apollo Global Management for an undisclosed sum.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, pending a U.S. Federal Trade Commission review.
Sun Country announced last month that it would cut 350 workers from its ground service operations at MSP and hire a third-party contractor to handle that work. President and CEO Jude Bricker said the decision was aimed at curbing costs and placing focus on “flying airplanes and selling tickets.”