Monday, April 14, 2008

Sun Country Airlines furloughs 45 pilots

Sun Country Airlines Boeing 737-800On May 1, 2008, nearly 30% of Sun Country Airlines pilots will be out of work, at least until Autumn. The privately owned Minnesota-based airline recently announced involuntary furloughs for 45 of its 156 pilots. The pilot layoffs will be in effect from May 1, 2008 through October 31 2008.

The reduction in the number of pilots on Sun Country's payroll reflects a trimming of capacity by the airline, in an attempt to cope with skyrocketing fuel prices. Sun Country will continue to operate seven of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft over the next six months, but the airline will sublease two others to Dutch carrier Transavia, according to a recent article in Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

More details, from the Star Tribune:
Sun Country's 2008 budget was created on the assumption of oil costing $85 to $90 a barrel. Now, [Sun Country CEO Stan] Gadek said, he is taking a number of steps to help Sun Country survive the brutal fuel price environment.

Those steps include halting growth plans and reducing flights to some markets. For example, Sun Country will cut service to Washington, D.C., from twice-daily flights to a single flight. In addition, it has backed away from plans to add a second flight to San Diego.

"Clearly the world has changed with high fuel prices," Gadek said.

Buddy Scroggins, chairman of the Sun Country pilots union, said that the pilots' contract provides for summer layoffs. While the pilot layoffs are involuntary, Gadek said some flight attendants have taken voluntary leaves. Depending on the month, 65 to 98 flight attendants will be on leave.
Another article about the Sun Country pilot layoffs, in USA Today, quoted a Sun Country spokesperson who said that the pilots will continue to accrue seniority but won't fly at all from May until the end of October.

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