Sun Country now officially flying out of Chippewa Valley Regional Airport

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 6:45 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A new airline is offering out of the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to partner with a major sub cost airline like Sun Country,” said Charity Zich, the airport director.

The success of the partnership is something Zich said depends on the customers.

“They are in the driver seat when it comes to air service and determining what kind of air service we have in the community. Because the number of customers we have utilizing the service determines what type of service we have available,” said Zich.

Sun Country offers less flights than its predecessor United Airlines, but offers more room for passengers.

“Given the size of the air craft, if everyone were to arrive when they’re used to arriving for the smaller aircraft, it would be impossible for that air craft to operate on time,” said Zich.

Sun Country is now the contracted essential air service provider at the airport after United Airlines terminated its partnership earlier this year.

“We have a two year period for both of us to feel out this process,” said Zich.

“We creatively put something together and I give a lot of credit to the local team,” said Grant Whitney, the chief revenue officer for Sun Country.

He said it should be possible to serve the Chippewa Valley with no interruption.

“We go into our schedule and make sure we can allocate the resources to make these flights work,” said Whitney.

One Eau Claire woman who’s parents live in Fort Myers, this month’s seasonal stop, is excited.

“As soon as they announced it I followed the Sun Country Facebook right away for the dates,” said Kelly Ware.

Dennis Heyde with Travel Leaders said the connecting service to Minneapolis might benefit only some.

“Those business people that connect with other airlines it will be more difficult because they are going into terminal 2 and then terminal 1 and they’ll go through security again. It will be a leisure driven market I’m sure,” said Heyde.

Despite the market size, Grant said its bigger than anyone thinks.

“I think the region that Eau Claire draws from is not all that small.”

For now when it comes to the direct flights, there are two more seasonal destinations on the horizon.

Flights to Orlando will be offered in the Spring and Summer, and in the Fall flights to Las Vegas will become available.

There are four flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul International every week.