MIAMI – Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines (SY) is downsizing staff by 7% at its corporate headquarters. 18 employees will be laid off and offered positions elsewhere in the company. An additional 94 positions will go unfilled. Chief Executive Officer Jude Bricker recently released a statement that was sent to employees regarding their job cuts.

“This is an e-mail I hoped never to send,” he says. “We’ve all worked together to put Sun Country in the best possible position for the future, and because of your diligent stewardship of the company, we’ve made every effort to make as few reductions as possible.” He goes on to mention that the decision to downsize staff was not an easy one.

According to the carrier, the layoffs do not include any executive positions. They do not include pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, or ramp agents either. Only the headquarters office workers are feeling the effects.

Photo: Luke Ayers

Reduction in Travel Demand

Sun Country, after Delta Air Lines (DL), has the second-largest presence at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). However, things have slowed because of the ongoing pandemic. Flight bookings are below SY’s sustainable levels. Activity at MSP is 70% lower than previous years.

“Bookings … have continued to be less than we need to sustain our business in the longer term,” says Bricker. “This action [job cutting] comes only after we have examined and implemented every other possible cost-savings measure along with drastic capacity reductions to stabilize the company financially.”

Flights began increasing slightly in June, but not for long. New coronavirus hot spots were starting to pop up around the United States. There was then a second drop in booking in July. The airline’s revenue is now down 50% in comparison to 2019.

Photo: Wiki Commons

Seeking Federal Aid

Back in March, the United States Congress passed the CARES Act to provide the country with economic assistance. Sun Country was given $60m from that act. As a result, the airline was able to achieve a small operating profit during the second quarter.

The CARES Act expired on October 1, leaving thousands of aviation jobs at risk. There is a proposal for an extension of the act, but President Donald Trump is halting all negotiations with the House Democrats until after the election. On the other hand, he is open to creating a bill specifically for airline federal aid.

Sun Country is praising its workforce for helping to reduce operational costs. Employees are taking voluntary furloughs and working shorter hours. Bricker says he does not expect the airline to require any more job cuts. Despite this, he understands that the future is uncertain.

“It’s more important than ever that we pull together and support one another,” he says. “We are thankful for the dedication and professionalism of all our employees through this unprecedented crisis. We will get through this and look forward to serving Minnesotans for many years to come.”

Featured image: Sun Country Airlines. Photo: Luca Flores