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Budget carrier turf war? Sun Country appears to retaliate against Allegiant

June 29, 2021
3 min read
Budget carrier turf war? Sun Country appears to retaliate against Allegiant
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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.

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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.

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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.

Stay tuned..

Featured image by GC Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023