Spirit and Frontier Will Soon Have More Competition in the Ultra Low-Cost Market
There's no shortage of low-cost carriers in the US. For no-frills flyers, choices range from the customer-friendly Southwest Airlines to the New York-based JetBlue, which offers free in-flight Wi-Fi. Then, there's another group of airlines below those brands, which are commonly referred to as ultra low-cost carriers, or ULCCs — think Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines. Now, that ULCC market is about to get one more addition.
Sun Country Airlines' new CEO Jude Bricker announced in a staff memo this week that the carrier was about to undergo some big changes, especially in the cost-cutting department. As reported by the Star Tribune, Bricker told employees that he plans to increase the carrier's revenue by implementing fees and plans to expand beyond its hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
What does that mean for passengers? Well, the ULCC market is about to get more crowded — Sun Country will move to earn a spot among the US fee-crazy carriers like Spirit and Frontier. Sun Country plans to start charging for a carry-on bag like Frontier and Spirit are notorious for doing.
In addition, Bricker said that he plans to add more seats to Sun Country's fleet of aircraft. Currently, the Eagan, Minnesota-based carrier operates a fleet of Boeing 737-700 and -800 aircraft, with each of its economy seats offering a generous 31-33 inches of pitch, depending on the seat. With Bricker's plan to add more seats, passengers will see that seat pitch decrease, as it crams more passengers in the cabin. Likely, passengers will see seat pitch on par with what's offered by Spirit and Frontier — 28 or 29 inches per seat.
Because of the carrier's underperformance, Bricker plans to increase revenue, in part, by focusing less on its MSP hub where there's plenty of competition. Instead, it'll expand its focus to other cities. And, to cut costs even further, Sun Country is offering to buy out senior employees. Instead, it'll hire new, younger employees who require less pay, helping to save it money.
The combination of these cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing measures are some of what Bricker has in store for the future of Sun Country. While he gave no timeline for the implementation for these new policies, they're surely on the horizon. If you're planning to fly with Sun Country in the near future, keep in mind that these changes are looming, and prepare to be nickel-and-dimed for just about everything.