An example of Sun Country’s early logo
A Sun Country DC-10 at Las Vegas International Airport in 1992 wearing the original livery
Early years and bankruptcies (1983–2008)Edit
Sun Country began flight operations in January 1983 with a single Boeing 727-200 jetliner. The airline’s original staff consisted of sixteen pilots, sixteen flight attendants, three mechanics and one office person. A number of the original employees had previously worked for Braniff International Airways, which ceased operations on May 12, 1982. The company’s founder and first President/CEO was Captain Jim Olsen, who also acted as Chief Pilot. His wife, Joan Smith-Olsen, acted as Chief Flight Attendant and Head of Inflight Operations.
In 2001, the company suspended operations due to financial troubles.
Following the replacement of interim CEO Jay Salmen by Stan Gadek, former CFO of AirTran Airways, Sun Country was nearly finished by the major recession of 2008 and the revelation of financial fraud. The airline furloughed 45 of its 156 pilots and scaled back its summer schedule due to rising fuel costs. Sun Country indicated it had hoped to get up to $50 million in loans or other financial help from the state of Minnesota and the airports commission. In September 2008 the carrier reduced, and in some cases eliminated, flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It also began charging for the first checked bag. At the end of September 2008, Gadek called for a 50% pay-deferral to all remaining employees. Tom Petters resigned after an FBI probe discovered that the airline had suffered financial fraud on a massive scale. Following this, the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time, on October 6, 2008.
Rebuilding and Davis brothers ownership (2011–2017)Edit
In July 2011, Sun Country was bought out of bankruptcy for $34 million by the Davis family, owners of Cambria, a Minnesota-based countertop company. Marty Davis, CEO of Cambria, became chairman.
In July 2017, after more than a year of missed monthly earnings projections, Davis replaced Erani as interim President and CEO, with Erani moving to other duties within the Davis family of companies. Jude Bricker, previously of Allegiant Air, was appointed as CEO one week after Erani stepped down. As part of its strategy, Sun Country had begun to move towards being a “no frills” airline.
Apollo Global Management ownership (2017–present)Edit
On December 17, 2019, Amazon Air bought a minority stake in Sun Country from Apollo, with plans for the airline to operate cargo flights under the Amazon Air brand. As Sun Country’s passenger model is heavily leisure focused, this deal is designed to help stabilize revenues during non-peak seasons.
In December 2019 Sun Country announced they would begin operating cargo flights for Amazon. Sun Country will initially operate ten cargo jets for Amazon Air. The airline operated their first cargo flight for Amazon in May 2020.
Top domestic markets (July 2021 – June 2022) |Rank|Airport|Passengers|Market share (%)|
| — | — | — | — |
|3|Fort Myers, Florida|154,340|2.82%|
|2|Las Vegas, Nevada|170,150|0.77%|