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Airline Cuts Continue as Pilot Shortage Simmers

Sun Country Airlines Announces Suspension of Service to Honolulu, Fairbanks

Customers with flights to Hawaii and Alaska found themselves refunded this week, after the carrier elected to suspend service amid crew shortages. 

Their apology only extended as far as the refund itself, not providing any additional reimbursement to extras like prepaid rentals, hotel accommodations, or tickets purchased through other carriers and affiliates. Customers received a message detailing the outage, and noting a hoped return to service on the line for 2023. 

“Due to the current pilot shortage impacting all U.S. airlines, Sun Country has regrettably elected to suspend service to Honolulu, HI (HNL) for the 2022 travel season. Passengers who were booked on impacted flights will automatically be refunded to their original form of payment for their reservation. We apologize for any inconvenience this temporary suspension of Honolulu service causes to our customers,” the message read. Sun Country seemed optimistic, at least, adding “We are hopeful for a return of Honolulu service for the 2023 travel season.”

The carrier's public relations personnel said the biggest problem was a lack of qualified crew, though their comments point to more than just a personnel shortfall as the culprit for the cancellation.  In a statement, the airline described itself as "operationally constrained by workforce shortages," reiterating to media that "Sun Country is adjusting our summer flying schedule to align better with staffing and aircraft availability." At the tail end of their statement, however, an additional reason slipped in. "We are eliminating service to Fairbanks and Honolulu – two long-haul flights that will also save on high fuel costs. We apologize to our guests for the change," they concluded. Their mention of the considerable fuel costs for the route surely played no small part in the decision to suspend service. In a battel between low cost carriers, there is very little fat to trim on ticket prices, and increasing fuel costs could have proven the final straw in reassigning sorely needed resources where they are more profitable. 



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