Monday, October 6, 2008

Sun still shines for Sun Country

With all of the bankruptcy announcements in the news these days, one could hardly be faulted for not noticing that discount airline Sun Country has joined the list of companies seeking protection from creditors.

More than half a dozen airlines have gone bankrupt this year. Historic Aloha, trendy all-business class carriers MAXjet, Eos, and SilverJet, and several regional carriers have vanished from the scene forever. Even Denver-based Frontier, which is still operating, is under bankruptcy reorganization.

But in each of those cases, the reason for the failure can be traced to high fuel prices caused by peak oil prices of nearly $150 per barrel. Sun Country is different; its decision to seek court protection stems from its founder--who was until just a few days ago also its chairman and CEO--being arrested on Federal charges ranging from mail and wire fraud to money laundering and obstructing justice.

A tiny airline that competes with much-larger Northwest Airlines and the many direct flights that carrier offers from its Minneapolis hub, Sun Country has nonetheless attracted a following for its combination of low prices and good service, as well as a selection of Minnesota-made foods that can be purchased onboard.

Sun Country's new CEO, Stan Gadek, says that he does not expect the bankruptcy filing to impact operations and that all flight schedules remain in place.

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