Regional air service expands, new flights for snowbirds

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No frills Spirit Airlines will boost its warm weather offerings for Minnesota travelers, starting November 7.

The Star Tribune reports the new destinations include Los Angeles, Phoenix, Orlando and Tampa. Spirit started serving the Twin Cities in June 2012. Its base fares are kept low, by tacking on charges for what other airlines offer as standard. Passengers pay for water, space in the overhead baggage compartment and boarding passes.

Spirit executive Mark Kopczak defended Spirit's cut-rate a la carte menu. "We need competitive air service and a menu of choices," he said. "Not all customers want first class.”

Meanwhile, Sun Country Airlines will extend its service to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas later this year.

The Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, Tex., reported that the Minneapolis-based carrier will begin service between Minneapolis-St Paul International and Valley International Airport on Sept. 1, one month earlier than previous years. The airline will also add a stop at Dallas-Fort Worth on its Friday, Saturday and Sunday flights and will add a third flight to MSP via DFW on Mondays beginning on Oct. 14.In the past, Sun Country flights were scheduled from Oct. 1 to the end of April. Now service will be extended through Memorial Day.

At the north end of the route Sun Country draws passengers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Central Canada. While its original passenger base was snowbirds--what the Valley Morning Star calls "Winter Texans"-- the paper reports that the airline has seen increased demand from Mexican nationals who fly from VIA to Minneapolis to shop at the Mall of America.

MPR reports that an airline will announce plans to begin air service out of the St. Cloud Regional Airport on Tuesday. Currently, Allegiant Air is the only commercial service to fly out of St. Cloud. Allegiant began offering two flights a week to Arizona last December.

Delta Airlines pulled out of the market in late 2009.

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