Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines has launched its inaugural flight out of Indianapolis International Airport. Chief Revenue Officer Grant Whitney says Indianapolis is a large, unserved market for the airline and adding it to a growing list of destinations fills a need for passengers. Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, says the deal with Sun Country was born out of a conversation during the Routes Americas Conference, which was held in Indy in February 2020.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Whitney said the airport represents the “vibrant, growing economy” of the city.
“As we look to grow the airline, for us, costs really are important and efficiency and knowing we’re giving our customers a product that we can stand behind,” said Whitney. “Knowing all the development that’s gone on in Indianapolis…has just really been complementary of the experience.”
The first route for Sun Country at IND runs twice a week to Minneapolis. However, Whitney says the airline is testing the market in Indy and plans to add another nonstop flight to Orlando beginning in September.
“Really, what our model is it’s all about agility [and] flexibility,” he said. “So, we’re going to be really focused on when people want to go. Our trips set up well for weekend trips from Indianapolis to Orlando, so we’re really excited to start that service as well. The airport [has] been a really, really good partners and we expect this relationship to start well and go on for a long time.”
Rodriguez says the deal with Sun Country would have happened years down the road. However, the pandemic has created a greater need for ultra-low-cost flights like those offered by Sun Country, which has grown over the last year.
“What you can notice about the airline industry…nimble airlines tend to do a lot better than the old, classic hub-and-spoke airlines and you can see how they’ve actually shifted,” said Rodriguez. “Sun Country’s expanding, which is amazing in this environment. If you really look at the environment where a lot of the other airlines have part of their fleet sitting in the desert, Sun Country is expanding service and expanding destinations.”
Sun Country currently operates nearly 100 routes to more than 65 destinations in North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. The Indianapolis route is the 15th new nonstop flight added at IND this year.
“We are really happy with the initial bookings that we’ve taken and we’ll continue to grow,” said Whitney. “We’re going to be really opportunistic and if we see opportunities to take advantage of in Indianapolis, we’ll jump on it. But it’s really important just to have that initial connectivity, so I think Indy’s in a good place and we’re really excited for where this relationship goes from here.”
Whitney says the Indy airport represents the “vibrant, growing economy” of the city.
Rodriguez says the pandemic has show a need for flexibility among airlines.