Budget carrier turf war? Sun Country appears to retaliate against Allegiant
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A battle of budget airlines is brewing in Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP).
Sun Country Airlines announced two new routes from MSP and moved up the start of another less than a day after low-cost rival Allegiant announced plans to start the exact same routes.
Sun Country will begin flying from MSP – its busiest hub – to both Asheville, North Carolina (AVL), and West Palm Beach (PBI) on Oct. 7. That’s the same day Allegiant will start its own service from MSP to those cities.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!
Additionally, Sun Country also said it’s planned service between MSP and Punta Gorda, Florida (PGD), would now start on Oct. 8 instead of in December, as originally planned. That date is – you guessed it – the same date Allegiant will begin flying the route.
Not only is Sun Country matching Allegiant’s start dates, it’s also matching its schedule. Sun Country will fly all three of the routes twice weekly, operating on the same two days that Allegiant will.
While Sun Country appears to be going on the offensive against Allegiant, it actually made the first move into a key Allegiant market.
Growth mode: Allegiant adds 4 new cities in 23-route expansion
That came back in April, when Sun Country first revealed its plan to fly to Punta Gorda.
That may seem like a low-profile route, but likely not to Allegiant.
Allegiant is the only carrier at the airport near Fort Myers, and the carrier has turned it into a busy base from which it flies dozens of nonstop routes. Sun Country’s entrance into the market would have made it just the second carrier with regular passenger service there.
Given that backdrop, Allegiant’s announcement to add Minneapolis/St. Paul to its route map earlier Tuesday was likely no coincidence. Allegiant went one step further, not only adding the MSP route that Sun Country had announced, but also added the two other destinations (Asheville and West Palm Beach) that Sun Country is now matching.
Connect by … bus?!? Report from Sun Country’s first Landline bus connection
Sun Country not only operates its busiest hub at MSP, but is headquartered nearby. Its decision to precisely match Allegiant’s new MSP routes less than 24 hours after they were announced is almost certainly a counter-strike to defend its turf.
When asked by TPG if the new routes were aimed at Allegiant, the carrier offered a statement from chief revenue officer Grant Whitney saying in an e-mailed statement that “We’re always evaluating new route and destination opportunities.”
“As Minnesota’s hometown airline of 40 years, we pride ourselves on connecting our community with their favorite people and places,” he added, seemingly wanting Sun Country’s local presence. “Expanding our network to offer the destinations folks want to visit paired with our Midwest hospitality help us to be Minnesota’s first choice for leisure travel.”
Now industry will observers will watch if the turf war escalates or holds steady.
Featured image by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees