Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sun Country Airlines, Jude Bricker, has admitted there are limits to how much the company can grow with its current fleet model, saying that it is looking into a possible future in which it would operate new aircraft.
Bricker talked of a “historically strong” Q2 2023 when Sun Country Airlines announced its quarterly results in August 2023. However, the leisure carrier is also feeling the effects of the ever-rising fuel prices globally.
Many airlines in the US have issued updated short-term outlooks, indicating that rising fuel prices will erode profit margins by the end of the year. Sun Country Airlines is no exception. According to Bricker, who spoke to AeroTime at the World Aviation Festival 2023, the airline will have to be more conservative going forward.
However, in part, it was already struggling to respond to demand due to labor issues – specifically, struggling to hire enough pilots, as well as upgrading first officers to captains.
Yet despite the potential upcoming uncertainty in the market, the leisure airline, which also provides charter and cargo services, is positive that its multi-dimensional model will help it weather the storm. One of the benefits that charter and cargo services provide to Sun Country Airlines is a stable volume of flights, as these are long-term contracts.
Those long-term contracts include a 10-year agreement with Amazon, on whose behalf Sun Country Airlines is carrying cargo with converted Boeing 737-800 freighters. The two parties are in their third year of the contract, with the carrier having operated flights under the agreement since May 2020.
But growth is now in the airline’s sights. Though it will welcome five second-hand Boeing 737-900ERs from its partner airline, Oman Air, Bricker said that there are limits to its model where it only purchases aircraft on the secondhand market. While the executive did not specify which Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) it has been talking to, Bricker mentioned that it will depend on how open either Airbus or Boeing might be to a prospective new customer.
“We are always in active discussions with both,” Bricker stated.
Furthermore, aircraft manufacturers are producing as much as they can and customers are taking in everything that Airbus and Boeing make, according to the executive. For others those supply chain issues may also extend to the introduction of new cabins, but, as it plans to welcome the five 737-900ERs, it’s not something that’s been a concern for Sun Country Airlines, as it defined its requirements back in 2019, even before the pandemic.
Currently, the airline operates a fleet of 55 aircraft with an average age of 16.9 years, according to ch-aviation.com data.