Sun Country Airlines is cutting 350 operational agent positions at its Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport base, according to multiple sources. Positions being cut include above-wing and below-wing jobs ranging from ticket counter agents to wheelchair service providers.
The Minneapolis-based newspaper StarTribune reported the cut is nearly 20 percent of the airline’s ground crew based at MSP. Company executives claim the move is to make the airline more efficient.
Sources state Global Aviation Services Inc. will be awarded a contract to take over the open positions. The rehiring process will run until May 1st, according to the StarTribune. Laid off Sun Country employees will be given “preferable access” when applying for positions at Global, Sun Country officials said.
The job cuts come a few months after Sun Country was purchased by New York-based Apollo Global Management.
Former airline executive and consultant Robert Mann told the StarTribune: “Sun Country eliminates a relatively small group of employees who are probably paid more in direct compensation and benefits. For [Sun Country] it represents a savings. But there’s a long-term question about how it affects their brand and how customers view them in the marketplace.”
Mann added that the ground services position has a high turnover rate, “especially in the winter where it’s no fun to work the ramp at 5 below and 30-mile-per-hour-winds.”
Global Aviation Services Inc. is currently headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has roughly 1,500 employees servicing multiple airlines across the globe. The service provider will take over baggage handling and aircraft cleaning services which are currently provided by Swissport International Ltd.
Sun Country says employees who are laid off will be able to keep some company benefits while losing others.
“We want to be sensitive to the transition they’re going through,” Global Aviation CEO Jim Murphy told the StarTribune. “It’s not their fault; it’s a business decision. We want to welcome them in and make them part of our family.”