Sun Country looks to state for help

Airplane
Sun Country contends it would make sense for the state to help the airline, given the economic kick Sun Country provides to the local economy and how the airline has helped lower airfares out of the Twin Cities.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Mendota Heights-based Sun Country Airlines hopes to land tens of million of dollars in loans and other financial help from the the state of Minnesota and Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Like most airlines, Sun Country is losing money because it hasn't been able to raise fares enough to offset spiraling fuel costs.

But Sun Country CEO Stan Gadek expects the airline can make it through these tough times, especially if it gets some government help.

"We would be looking for potentially up to $50 million of cash aid that could come in the form of fee abatements and or loans. We would only take it as needed. The goal here is get through this interim period of 24 months until we achieve stability. The industry achieves stability," Gadek said.

Sun Country has met with several state senators to discuss its aid request. And it plans to meet soon with the airports commission.

State Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna was among a group of senators who met with Sun Country executives Wednesday. Day said the air carrier's pitch for financial help went over well.

"I thought it was well-received by our committee, not that we're saying this is what we will or will not do. It was something we were willing to listen to And I think it'll probably go forward to some other committees And It'll probably manifest itself into some type of legislation next year when we get together, or sooner," Day said.

The airline estimates it pumps about $100 million a year into the Twin Cities economy. The airline also claims it saves local travelers over $225 million a year by keeping down airfares.

Sun Country says its aid request is still in development. Over the years, Eagan-based Northwest Airlines has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and other financial breaks from the state and airports commission.

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