Sun Country Airlines will fly nonstop between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Portland, Ore., for seven months out of the year, the company announced Tuesday.
It’s a new route and new destination for the Mendota Heights-based airline, which has been adding markets to its network recently.
The flight, which will operate from June 9 through Jan. 3, offers Minnesotans an alternative to Delta Air Lines, which dominates at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Alaska Airlines also flies nonstop seasonal service on the route.
“Our hometown shares so much of the vibrancy and culture that makes Oregon great, so it feels natural for the Twin Cities’ airline to serve Portland International Airport (PDX),” Zarir Erani, Sun Country’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We are excited to continue to expand our list of cities served for our customers.”
The Portland announcement comes just two months after Sun Country announced new nonstop service from MSP to Denver, a market it has not served since 2007. As for Portland, Sun Country flew “a handful of flights” into and out of that airport for a few months in 2003 and 2004, said Larry Chestler, the airline’s executive vice president of business development.
“Portland has a demand pattern that looks very much like Seattle, which we have served for a long time,” Chestler said. “It has a huge summer surge and in the wintertime it is very sparse.”
The flights will take a hiatus from January through May when Sun Country’s airplanes are in high demand for flights to and from its tropical destinations, Chestler said.
“We are excited to welcome Sun Country’s scheduled service to PDX this summer,” said David Zielke, director of air service development for Portland International Airport, in a statement. “This now gives Portland another convenient option for business or leisure travel to the Twin Cities area.”
Sun Country will operate the route five days a week from June through August, every day except Tuesday and Wednesday. The fall months will see service drop to four days a week, and from Dec. 15 through Jan. 3, the flight will operate at its greatest frequency, flying every day except Saturday, to accommodate holiday traffic.
The company bases its new route decisions on both customer feedback and a load of data, Chestler said. “Both Denver and Portland are a similar case for us,” he said. “They are places people go primarily for leisure travel, although they are both big cities with lots of economic activity, as well. These cities just floated to the tops of our list.”