Sun Country Airlines, a small carrier based in Minneapolis that focuses mostly on leisure routes, has announced their intentions to start transatlantic service this summer, connecting New York City to London’s Stansted airport once weekly. The service will depart from
New YorkMinneapolis on Friday evenings with return flights scheduled on Sunday mornings. The aircraft will remain at Stansted overnight on Saturday.
The Stansted airport is only marginally truly a London airport. It is about 45 minutes and £18 away from Liverpool Station by express train. Still, it opens a fourth airport offering service to New York City back up to London residents and it offers some convenience for residents in the northern suburbs.
The Stansted – New York route was served previously by Eos airline, an all-business class carrier, and American Airlines. American fought Eos aggressively on price, and the upstart carrier eventually was forced into bankruptcy and a cessation of operations. Shortly thereafter American suspended service on the route noting that it was not profitable. The Dallas-based carrier has not yet indicated whether they intend to restart operations on the route given the new competition but it seems unlikely.
The service is expected to be operated on the carrier’s 737-800 aircraft making Sun Country the only operator of coach or mixed configuration 737s crossing the Atlantic at this time. The necessary ETOPS certification was accomplished in late 2009 so there are no limitations to offering the service at this point. Pricing and final schedule details have not been released and initial inquiries to the Sun Country press office have not yet been returned.
UPDATE (17 MAR 10): The service will be from Minneapolis with a technical stop in Gander on the Canadian coast, not via New York City. So very disappointing for me.
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JFK-STN is 3000 nautical miles. The range of a B737-800 is 2600 nm (according to Sun Country’s website) or 3000 nm (from Boeing’s website, which probably includes optional tanks). That means they’ll need a fuel stop somewhere. Maybe Shannon like the BA A318 so they can do US customs pre-clearance on the way back? SNN-JFK is still 2600 nm though, and there’s a headwind.
London isn’t exactly sun country. 😉
Why are they going to keep the aircraft in London for 30 hrs?
I know there is a lot of confusion about this route, but the JFK > STN is direct on a 738…I am not as well versed in Sun Country’s fleet as I should be being that I am MSP based and a huge fan of Sun Country.
The reason for them flying this route is to build up their ETOPS-120 flight-hours so they can go for their ETOPS-180. Sun Country wants to begin narrow-body military charters to Europe and compete with Miami Air which is currently the only domestic narrow-body operator running trans-Atlantic mil charters…
My understanding is that they’ll just leave the plane on the ground for the 30 hours. Apparently that is a better use for it than running an extra MSP-JFK turn.
On the range issue they can either add a technical stop in SNN, block seats from passengers or come up with some other solution, but it seems that they are doing this.
As for the narrow-body TATL charters, CO also expressed that they may try to get in that business with their 737-900ERs but thus far they are keeping the planes in passenger operations. I guess if there are further capacity cuts in their operations having the birds able to go across the pond isn’t a bad thing for them.
Technical stop in Gander, it appears.
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