[U.S. Essential Air Service] September 28, 2023, 12:28 pm ET.By Joey Gerardi.
A new player in the EAS realm, Sun Country is looking to expand its portfolio of government-subsidized air service in the Midwest.
Sun Country, a Minneapolis/St. Paul-based ultra-low-cost carrier which operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800s, has begun the process of applying for more Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts.
Roughly a year ago, the carrier took the aviation community by surprise winning its first EAS contract in the Wisconsin community of Eau Claire. This became Sun Country’s shortest route at only 85 miles, the largest aircraft to regularly fly to an EAS city, and also the longest EAS route as the contract also has them operating flights from Eau Claire to Las Vegas. AirlineGeeks even had the chance to fly on Sun Country’s inaugural flight to Eau Claire.
Sun Country 737-800 in the EAS community of Eau Claire, Wis. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)
One year ago, nobody would’ve thought that Sun Country would end up with an EAS contract, let alone be applying for more. Technically the airline does not even qualify for EAS service given that it has less than daily service, but nonetheless, Sun Country was awarded the contract in Eau Claire and is coming up on the one-year anniversary of the inaugural.
The two EAS communities it has now applied for include Brainerd in Minnesota as well as Rhinelander in Wisconsin. Both communities currently see SkyWest service under the Delta Connection brand onboard CRJ-200s but will soon switch to CRJ-700s or CRJ-900s due to a directive from Delta that all branded service must be dual-class service starting October 2023.
Rhinelander and Brainerd, along with three other midwestern EAS communities will have their current contract end on January 31,…