NOVEMBER 08, 2016


The prodigal Sun Country has returned.
Sun Country Airlines, which pulled its flights from ValleyInternationalAirport in fall 2015, will land its first flight from Minneapolis on Thursday as it resumes seasonal service between Minnesota and Harlingen.
“ We are excited to continue our longstanding partnership with Sun Country Airlines and look forward to offering our travelers additional non-stop flights between the Rio Grande Valley and Minneapolis this winter season,” Marv Esterly, director of aviation for VIA, said yesterday via email. Sun Country’s flights to Harlingen were among several routes the airline canceled in 2015. But airport officials here believe complaints from Winter Texans about the cancellation of the flights and lack of service to Harlingen prompted Sun Country to re-evaluate the decision.
Flights to Harlingen will occur on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, airport officials say. The first flight arriving Thursday will land at 11:30 a.m.
The planes, Boeing 737-800s, can carry up to 162 passengers. Sun Country began flying to ValleyInternationalAirport in 1997. Like many airlines, it has gone through difficult financial times recently, declaring bankruptcy and restructuring its operations in 2008.
Harlingen isn’t the only sunny spot the airline has its eyes on.
Sun Country officials announced in June they had been approved for two direct daily flights from Minneapolis to Cuba by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
It isn’t clear when the Cuba flights will commence, although they could begin as soon as this winter.

By RICK KELLEY | Staff Writer