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Sun Country cutting jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Minnesota-based airline is eliminating many unfilled positions, with the cuts impacting 18 people.

Sun Country is eliminating more than 100 positions at its headquarters, but the cuts will only impact 18 employees. 

The Minnesota-based airline blames the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the airline industry, which has led to depressed demand for travel, Sun Country said in a statement to Bring Me The News.

This, along with the expiration of federal CARES Act payroll funding, has forced layoffs throughout the travel industry, the airline notes. 

"Our entire team has worked tirelessly to ensure the financial stability and future of our airline through a variety of cost-cutting measures and capacity reductions," the statement said. "Staff reductions are our last choice to reduce our costs, but they have become necessary. We are saddened to confirm that we are implementing staff reductions in our management workforce."

As a result, Sun Country is cutting 18 positions (nine of the workers will be offered alternative positions), as well as eliminating 94 positions that are currently unfilled. 

The positions being eliminated are all management positions and doesn't impact any positions at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Sun Country has not furloughed any frontline employees, such as pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, stations or dispatch teams.

According to the federal Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which tracks airline employment data, Sun Country employed 1,666 full-time and part-time employees in August (the most recent data available). In August 2019, Sun Country employed 1,520 employees, data show. 

In total, U.S. airlines are employing thousands of fewer people than they did a year ago, DOT data show. In August 2019, total employment by all U.S. airlines was 743,214.

In July 2020, 706,824 people were employed by airlines, and in August 2020 it dropped to 704,486 (although the DOT notes that five airlines that reported 2,919 employees in July did not report August employee numbers). 

Meanwhile, airlines aren't the only ones in the travel industry affected by the pandemic. Over the past few months, companies have laid off hundreds of workers due to fewer people traveling. Among them: Radisson Hotel Group said this month that it was laying off 95 employees from its Mall of America hotel and more than 120 works from its downtown Minneapolis hotel

Hudson News earlier this month said it was laying off 61 workers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. HMSHost told the state in August it would be laying off 404 employees, and in July Aero Service Group (ASG), based in St. Louis Park, informed the state that it would have to layoff up to 92 people due to the pandemic and a decline in air traffic. 

Sun Country's full statement: 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impact on the airline industry, resulting in greatly depressed demand for air travel. This decrease in demand, coupled with the expiration of federal payroll support, has led to layoffs throughout our industry. Our entire team has worked tirelessly to ensure the financial stability and future of our airline through a variety of cost-cutting measures and capacity reductions.

"Staff reductions are our last choice to reduce our costs, but they have become necessary. We are saddened to confirm that we are implementing staff reductions in our management workforce. This action will immediately affect 18 current team members.

"At this time, we have not furloughed any of our pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, stations, and dispatch teams. In fact, no frontline employees have been affected by this reduction in staffing. Only management roles are impacted. However, that doesn’t change at all how difficult these decisions have been to make.

"We are thankful for the dedication and professionalism of all our employees through this unprecedented crisis. We will get through this and look forward to serving Minnesotans for many years to come.”

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