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Sun Country to offer Minneapolis-London seasonal service


Known for its leisure-targeted flights to places such as Mexico and the Caribbean, Sun Country is expanding across the Atlantic, offering weekly seasonal service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and London Stansted between June 11 and Aug. 15.

The airline plans to use 737-800s for the nine-hour flights, which are scheduled take off from Minneapolis/St. Paul on Fridays and return Sundays from Stansted, about 30 miles north London, making a refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland, in each direction. The Transportation Department granted the carrier long-range certification earlier this year to use the jets for the transatlantic service.

Sun Country says its passengers can connect in Stansted with low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet for other European destinations.

Although this will be Sun Country's first scheduled transatlantic service, London is not a total unknown to the airline, which operated charter flights to the city in the mid-1990s.

Traditionally focused on leisure destinations in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, the airline is looking to further diversify its business after launching Sun Country Vacations last year and, more recently, breaking into selling cruise packages.

Indeed, some industry analysts say the only way Sun Country could make sense, or a go, of a new transatlantic service would be by combining the airline and vacation packages, especially through deals with tour companies.

Sun Country expects to emerge this spring from Chapter 11 protection. The airline filed for bankruptcy in 2008, soon after Tom Petters, its largest shareholder, was charged with running a Ponzi scheme. He was found guilty last year and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.