PUNTA GORDA — Punta Gorda Airport is adding a second commercial airline to its terminal later this year with the addition of Sun Country Airlines.
The new airline will begin service to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) beginning Dec. 10, 2021, operating twice a week and with one-way fares starting at $89.
“We are thrilled that Sun Country Airlines has selected PGD for this new route, and we look forward to establishing a strong partnership and new opportunities for growth,” said James W. Parish, airport CEO in a Sun Country press release.
This is the first commercial airline, other than Allegiant Air, to fly out of Punta Gorda since Frontier Airlines in 2017.
Some Charlotte County Airport Authority commissioners believe the addition is going open the door to further expansion.
“I think that finally other airlines are recognizing the potential market that PGD has,” Commissioner Robert Hancik told The Daily Sun, “especially when you look at the tens of thousands of passengers that Allegiant Air is carrying out of the area annually.”
Last year, despite coronavirus setbacks, almost 1.2 million passengers flew in and out of Punta Gorda compared to almost 1.65 million passengers in 2019.
“I think that Sun Country is going to be a wonderful addition,” said Commissioner Vanessa Oliver. “Allegiant has had great success here and they have been a wonderful partner to PGD.
“The addition of Sun Country shows other airlines that we are a growing destination and a great option for them as well.”
Airport spokesperson Kaley Miller told The Daily Sun that Sun Country approached them about the new route.
“They reached out to us just a few weeks ago to determine what it would take to start up here,” Miller said. “We worked through some basic logistics with them.
“We have four ticket counter spaces available that they will utilize, and they will be operating under the same low-cost structure as Allegiant.”
Miller said Sun Country was already familiar with Punta Gorda Airport’s operation.
“The airline industry is somewhat close knit,” Miller said. “Jude Bricker has been Sun Country’s chief executive officer since 2017. He was formerly the chief operating officer at Allegiant Travel.
“So, you can say Sun Country already knows PGD through its executive’s past experience with us.”
Miller went on to say that PGD currently doesn’t have any other conversations going regarding other additional airlines.
Hancik believes Punta Gorda is a likely destination for other airlines as the industry adapts to new flight trends.
“I think airlines − especially in this day and age with the absence of historical business travelers who aren’t there − are looking strongly at leisure markets (like Punta Gorda and other vacation spots) because that’s what the passengers are looking for,” Hancik said.
When asked if he thought other airlines might show interest in PGD, Hancik said, “Our doors are always open.”
The new partnership with PGD is part of a larger expansion plan for Sun Country, as it adds 18 new nonstop routes and nine new airports to its network, including Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Sarasota.
“With more and more people excited to resume traveling, we’re excited to be able to offer them another option to get away this winter to enjoy the Sunshine State,” said Sun Country Airlines Chief Revenue Officer Grant Whitney in the press release. “We’re know there is pent-up demand for convenient, affordable travel, and we’re here to help folks enjoy the vacations they’ve been dreaming about.”
Sun Country’s customer experience includes free in-flight entertainment, a new mobile-friendly website with more self-service tools, and new interiors on each aircraft.
More information about the airline’s new routes can be found at SunCountry.com.
Other information is also available at FlyPGD.com.