Sun Country Stays Pragmatic While Shopping For Boeing 737s

Sun Country Airlines may not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of a…

Sun Country Stays Pragmatic While Shopping For Boeing 737s

Sun Country Airlines may not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of a US airline. However, the ultra-low-cost carrier is determined to expand its position and become relevant to more travelers. With recent route expansions and a successful IPO, the airline is gearing up for growth. In 2021, the airline has been shopping around for planes. While there are deals to be had, Sun Country is acquiring Boeing 737s in a pragmatic manner.

Sun Country wants more Boeing 737s. Photo: Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country grows its fleet

During the second quarter of 2021, Sun Country expanded its passenger fleet. The carrier acquired two additional Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These are used planes.

A third aircraft arrived at Sun Country in July. This took its overall passenger fleet to 34 aircraft, but that is not all it plans to have this year. The carrier announced it is actively pursuing deals for used jets and plans to get to 36 Boeing 737s by the end of the year.

Dave Davis, President and Chief Financial Officer, stated the following on the airline’s used aircraft strategy:

“We are actively in the market for 737NGs that fit our cost parameters, and we have seen a lot of aircraft coming available in the market in recent months at attractive terms. As a reminder, Sun Country has no committed aircraft book, and we’re able to fund our growth with low-cost aircraft purchased opportunistically in the used market.”

Sun Country
The airline only flies Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft. Photo: Sun Country

Pragmatic growth from Sun Country

The crisis has opened up many attractive opportunities for airlines like Sun Country to acquire used mid-life aircraft at attractive rates. Sun Country’s planes are Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, and it wants to stick with fleet commonality. However, CEO Jude Bricker had not ruled out looking at the MAX or even Airbus planes in an interview with Simple Flying in April.

Sun Country has laid out a plan to get to 50 aircraft by the end of 2023 in passenger service, and it is making excellent progress in getting there. By the end of this year, the carrier will only be 14 aircraft shy of that schedule.

However, there are limits to just how quickly Sun Country can add new jets. As Mr. Davis further explained:

“I think operationally, probably the max pedal to the metal for us would be an aircraft a month. I don’t know if we could sustain that for two years, but it’s an aircraft a month kind of thing at max.”

Sun Country
The airline is constrained by factors like pilots and crew when it comes to inducting new aircraft. Photo: Sun Country

Adding new aircraft is not an easy process. Generally, Sun Country will need to retrofit the aircraft, have the jet repainted in its house livery, and – most importantly – source the crew to fly the aircraft. Every airline has its own maximum number of new jets it can induct in a given period of time.

However, that does not mean Sun Country cannot take advantage of pandemic-era deals on jets. Mr. Davis described the carrier’s flexibility in this regard:

“One of the things we can always do though, given the strength of our model, we can bring an aircraft that we might not necessarily have a scheduled service need for in a particular month or quarter, even that we bring it in, but we can throw it into our ad hoc charter pool, and, as long as we get the pilots to resource it, we can use the aircraft to pick up some incremental charter revenue.”

This diversified model has significantly helped Sun Country. Charter operations are starting to come back as sporting events resume. In fact, charter operations have, historically, helped push Sun Country to land at over 300 airports a year.

Some deals are simply too good to pass up. While charter revenue might not be as reliable or as frequent as scheduled services, it can help pay the bills for an aircraft that is too good to pass on.

Nevertheless, Sun Country is taking a pragmatic approach. The aviation industry is littered with airlines that grew too big too fast. Newer entrants in the market – Avelo and Breeze – have had to trim their schedules recently and alter their route networks to rectify some expansive growth.

Sun Country
Sun Country flies all-economy aircraft on scheduled passenger service runs. Photo: Sun Country

Market growth

The airline is very well known among travelers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, where it is based. Recently, it has announced new flying out of other Midwestern cities like Rochester (RST), Duluth (DLH), and Green Bay (GRB) to leisure destinations in Florida and Arizona.

Based in Minneapolis, the airline is trying to be relevant to more Midwesterners. Photo: Sun Country

Sun Country needs to factor in the time it takes for some of the markets to mature. This means the early days or months of a new route addition can come at a loss to a carrier. Compound that across multiple routes over multiple weeks or months, and it can spell trouble for a growing carrier. Sun Country is trying to mitigate that risk by following a pragmatic approach.

The slow and steady approach to growth and aircraft acquisition continues at Sun Country. Still, it is well on its way to hitting 50 jets in passenger service by the end of 2023.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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How Avelo Airlines Is Boosting Flight Efficiency With Data Analytics

Avelo Airlines got operations off to a flying start at the end of April. Following success at its…

How Avelo Airlines Is Boosting Flight Efficiency With Data Analytics

Avelo Airlines got operations off to a flying start at the end of April. Following success at its Burbank, California base, it is set to open up another one in New Haven, Connecticut, during the third quarter of this year. With this momentum, the carrier is keen to get the most out of its data to fully optimize its services.

Avelo Airlines is keen to make the most out of its Boeing 737 trips while keeping safety at the forefront of its operations. Photo: Avelo Airlines

A proactive partnership

This week, Avelo announced that it has taken on GE Digital’s Electronic Flight Operation Quality Assurance (eFOQA) flight data monitoring (FDM) and processing solution. This application helps carriers fully utilize flight data to enhance their overall operations. Amid this announcement, Simple Flying caught up with Michael J. Quiello, vice president of safety, security, and operational excellence at Avelo Airlines and Andrew Coleman, General Manager of GE Digital’s Aviation Software business, to talk about the benefits to be had with the system.

Notably, with the solution, Avelo can leverage flight data to attain the highest safety and efficiency standards in the market. This process will allow it to take part in top-of-the-range safety programs alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Avelo’s Quiello explains that the eFOQA system allows his airline to conduct more safety studies because it’s not having to do the usual tedious tasks such as manipulating the data. The system aligns all the data for Avelo to give it output. Thus, instead of being pulled back by the day-to-day trivial work, Quiello’s team can focus on safety studies and analytics.

GE’s solution includes a massive library of over 10,000 pre-built algorithms that give airlines bondless analytics customization and data processing abilities. Photo: Getty Images

Keeping on top of things

This approach could prove to be incredibly valuable for the airline. As an ultra-low-cost carrier, it needs to ensure that operations continue to remain cost-effective and that passengers can continue to pay low fares. Moreover, services also need to be run safely. Therefore, combining several insights from the data at hand can ensure that Avelo has the right balance.

“When the airline first started out in late April, we had an idea of how the airline is going to operate. So the first thing you want to do is say, ‘Is the airline operating like we’ve designed it to be?’ And that’s when you start using the data to say that ‘It’s operating pretty close to what we thought it would operate, but how can we make it better?’” Quiello told Simple Flying.

“Now you start using that data to try to improve the processes, just a little bit, and you can use data for just about anything, to understand your turn times, to understand your flight operations. So, all that data coming together really helps to make this a highly efficient system. When you’re very efficient, you lower your cost, and when you lower your costs you can pass it on to your customers.”

Ultimately, airline passengers can reap the benefits to be had with making the most out of data analytics. Photo: Getty Images

Benefiting the industry

By deploying eFOQA Mainline, airlines can analyze specific flights to identify hazards and evaluate mitigation efforts with user-friendly tools. After the data flight is processed, Tableau, a data analytics platform, can display the information in interactive, web-based presentations.

Airlines have access to GE Digital Aviation Software’s Event Measurement System (EMS) for safety analysts with eFOQA Mainline. Photo: Getty Images

Importantly, this seamless approach can do wonders for airlines and even the wider industry to understand broader issues. Raw data doesn’t take external factors into account. The time of day, weather conditions, and location are not considered. However, after flight data is inputted in the system, it can understand trends better and help stakeholders look at any potential issues, whether they are individual, local, regional, or global.

“The FAA requires an operator to pull 88 attributes for a FOQA program. Attributes include how a plane took off, how it landed, and how much fuel was in the plane,” GE’s Coleman shared.

“In contrast, the newer planes to go into service, such as the Airbus A220, capture 24,000 attributes. There is an immense amount of data coming off of each and every flight from these aircraft.”

With all these data points, there are plenty of opportunities to optimize operations. For instance, airlines can better plan maintenance amid all of the information gathered over each flight. Notably, 25% of the maintenance budget from an airline comes from unplanned maintenance. Therefore, GE Digital is working with operators to utilize this data more effectively.

Tel Aviv Air
Airlines all across the globe rely on GE Digital’s data solutions. Photo: Getty Images

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Smoothing out the process

Overall, Coleman explains that there was a time when individuals not only needed a particular degree, but they needed to be able to program to make use of certain data. However, today, there are pilots and mechanics who don’t want the intervention of IT departments and are able to gather insight from the data in a simple, easy-to-use manner.

Just this week, Avelo shared that it is launching four new routes from Burbank this fall. It will head to Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado, Monterey, California, and Provo and St. George, Utah, throughout September and October. The company also announced another route from the Greater Bay Area to Las Vegas earlier this month.

With the airline quickly expanding so soon after its commencement of operations, it will need all the insights it can get to serve efficiently through its development. Data analytics will play a major role in the next chapter of global aviation as the industry strives to recover from the overwhelming impact of the health crisis.

What are your thoughts about GE Digital’s solution and how it can help airlines with their operations? What do you make of the prospects of Avelo Airlines and the benefits it could have with GE’s system? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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