Sun Country Airlines (SY, Minneapolis/St. Paul) is evaluating options for adding widebody aircraft in the next few years to operate both cargo and passenger long-haul services.

Chief Executive Jude Bricker told The Thrifty Traveler blog that the airline would likely focus first on cargo operations, possibly in cooperation with an express carrier.

"I think that can combine really well with a passenger operation in the same aircraft type, with long-haul options for Minnesota travellers to Europe or the Deep South, [or Hawaii], or wherever the opportunity is. It's just not practical right now at the moment. But three years from now? Four years from now?," he said.

While he would not disclose any potential city pairs or specific aircraft types, the airline did add A330 and B767 pay rates to its collective labour agreement last year.

"The truth is, Europe is the best thing in the summertime for a widebody airplane to be doing. Flying the Atlantic is where all the demand is in the summer months," he emphasised.

Bricker said Sun Country could also expand its long-term corporate charter agreements, for college and professional sports teams, which require frequent domestic travel around the US.

The ch-aviation fleets history module shows Sun Country used to operate various DC-10 widebodies, retiring the last of its DC-10-10s in 2001. The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows the leisure-centred LCC currently operates an all-B737 passenger fleet comprising two inactive B737-700s and forty-two B737-800s. It recently expanded its -800 fleet with a batch of second-hand aircraft. The airline also operates twelve B737-800(BCF)s under a CMI agreement with, which launched during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concurrent with its widebody expansion studies, the airline is also eyeing a larger share of the Essential Air Service (EAS) market in the US. It recently scooped its first subsidised route between Eau Claire and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Bricker said he expects Sun Country Airlines and its B737 fleet to be able to replace legacy regional operators struggling with a pilot shortage on more EAS routes going forward.

Eau Claire - located just 137 kilometres from Minneapolis/St. Paul airport - can also be used by Sun Country Airlines as an "overflow airport" for its main base. The LCC plans to overnight some aircraft and launch a maintenance centre at the Wisconsin airport.

Despite these plans, the core of Sun Country's operations will remain focused on leisure routes. Bricker said the airline is planning to expand its frequencies to Las Vegas Harry Reid, Phoenix Sky Harbor, cities in California and Florida, and has ambitions to launch flights to Grand Cayman Island.