With few passengers, Sun Country gears plan to fly for Amazon

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While millions of potential travelers are staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, one airline has found an enthusiastic customer: Amazon.

Sun Country Airlines, a carrier owned by Apollo Global Management, reached an agreement last December to start piloting 10 Boeing 737 freighters for the online retailer. Minneapolis-based Sun Country plans to pilot the 10 cargo planes by the end of July, earlier than the previous target for the end of the summer, CEO Jude Bricker told CNBC on Wednesday.

Passenger demand is down 95% at Sun Country compared to what was expected just a few months ago, echoing similar declines across the U.S. airline industry, so that additional freight activity is welcome. The operation will begin with its first aircraft on May 7.

While Sun Country planned to fly dedicated Amazon planes last year, other airlines are now turning to air cargo as they face a passenger shortage. American, Delta and United are among the major airlines that have operated pure cargo flights, offering everything from perishables to medical supplies.

Sun Country, whose low-cost passenger activity focuses on sun seekers and other travelers visiting friends and relatives in the United States, had previously planned to mix pilots to meet the new Amazon cargo ship flying this summer.

“We were lucky,” said Bricker. “We were the main constraint in the ramp-up [up]. We were removing the pilots from passenger service and now it’s no longer a problem. “

Bricker said it was too early to say if the company will expand its partnership with Amazon. The online retailer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The airline was preparing for a possible IPO in the first half of 2020, but “clearly, given what has happened, this is pending,” said chief financial officer Dave Davis, adding that it would be unlikely let the public go public this year.

An IPO is not entirely on the table, but it will depend on the overall economy and the airline stock market, added Davis.

Sun Country was approved for $ 60 million of the $ 25 billion in federal grants to US airlines to continue paying staff until September 30.

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