Turf war: Sun Country adds rare single new route against Frontier Airlines

Competition in the airline industry is nothing new. It’s a constant battle for market share and customer loyalty. For travelers, competition can be a great thing. It means more options, lower fares, and better service. But for airlines, especially those in the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) segment, competition can be a cause for concern. That seems to be the case for Sun Country Airlines, as it recently announced a new nonstop route from Minneapolis to Cleveland, just hours after Frontier Airlines made the same announcement.

Sun Country Airlines, based at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), is known for its low-cost, leisure-focused service. It operates a network of nonstop flights to various vacation destinations across the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. On the other hand, Frontier Airlines is also a ULCC that offers low fares and a no-frills experience. Both airlines cater to budget-conscious travelers who are looking for affordable flights.

Frontier Airlines’ announcement included expanding operations across 38 airports, with five new routes from Sun Country’s busiest base in MSP. This seemingly drew the ire of executives at Sun Country, as their latest announcement is seen as a direct response to Frontier’s expansion. Sun Country’s new Minneapolis-to-Cleveland route is scheduled to commence on the same day as Frontier’s, and both airlines plan to operate the route with the same frequencies.

Moreover, Frontier announced attractive $19 introductory fares on its new Minneapolis routes. Although Sun Country didn’t disclose its fare information in the press release, a quick check on the airline’s website shows that its new route also starts at $19. This suggests that Sun Country is not only matching Frontier’s fares but also competing head-to-head on price.

In addition to the new Cleveland route, Frontier is adding service from MSP to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Philadelphia. Three of these flights will directly compete against Sun Country’s existing service, highlighting the intensifying competition between the two airlines. However, Sun Country made it clear that it is already an established player in these markets, and it serves numerous other airports nonstop from MSP.

This is not the first time Sun Country has found itself in a turf war. Its base in MSP is also a major hub for Delta Air Lines, a larger network carrier. Over the years, Sun Country and Delta have competed for local market share. In 2021, budget carrier Allegiant announced three new routes from MSP, and Sun Country retaliated by adding service in the exact same markets shortly after. This shows that Sun Country is not afraid to engage in a battle for customers and market dominance.

What happens next in this competition between Sun Country and Frontier is anyone’s guess. However, one thing is certain: Minneapolis-based travelers will benefit from increased competition in these markets. More options, lower fares, and better service are always welcome to customers.

Grant Whitney, Sun Country Airlines’ chief revenue officer, expressed excitement about adding Cleveland to their expanding network. He emphasized their commitment to customer service and affordability, which he believes sets them apart from other leisure airlines. Sun Country aims to provide a great travel experience for its passengers while offering competitive prices.

In conclusion, competition in the airline industry is fierce, and Sun Country Airlines is not one to back down. Its recent announcement of a new nonstop route from Minneapolis to Cleveland, following Frontier Airlines’ similar announcement, shows the airline’s determination to compete and attract customers. Travelers can look forward to more options and potentially lower fares as these two ULCCs battle it out in the market.

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