Frontier and Sun Country file an IPO, looking to raise cash

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Two low-cost carriers in the United States have filed their applications for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), as they look to raise cash not to weather the current storm, but rather to be prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead as the world begins to turn a corner on the current pandemic.

Both airlines filed for their respective IPO applications with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 8, 2021.

For Frontier Airlines, a Denver International Airport (DEN)-based ultra-low-cost-carrier, this would be the second attempt at an IPO. Previously filed in March 2017, the company canceled its application in July 2020 as it sought to raise over $700 million. Now, the LCC is looking to buff up its liquidity by up to $100 million.

“We believe the restrictions and health concerns that have depressed demand during the pandemic are also likely to lead to increased levels of pent-up demand for leisure travel once the effects of the pandemic decrease. As a result, we expect to see a significant recovery in our performance as the U.S. market recovers,” argued the airline in the SEC filing. According to Frontier, the airline’s per passenger costs would only increase by $1 as a result of debt-related costs, while US airlines of “significant size” increased their debt-related per passenger costs, on average, by $17.

“We believe that using low fares to stimulate demand positions us to benefit from significant growth opportunities, including as the U.S. market recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” concluded Frontier Airlines. The SEC filing showed that the company concluded 2020 with a net loss of $365 million, its first loss in the last five years.

Meanwhile, Sun Country Airlines is looking to raise as much as $240 million in its IPO. The airline, which also defines itself as a low-cost carrier, is at the same time, a bit different to a typical LCC business model. In addition to operating scheduled flights, Sun Country also operates charter flights and cargo aircraft on behalf of Amazon. In total, the Minnesota-based airline has 43 Boeing 737 aircraft, all of which were acquired second-hand. As a result, the “lower acquisition costs, when compared to new Boeing 737 aircraft, that more than offsets their higher ongoing maintenance and repair costs,” commented the airline.

Much like Frontier, Sun Country Airlines believes it is “well-positioned to rebound faster than most other U.S. airlines,” as the carrier predicts that the aviation industry “will rebound in the back half of 2021 and normalize in 2022.”


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