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The hunger to travel pushed Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines to its most profitable spring quarter in six years — with strong demand expected to continue.

"Minneapolis, by far our largest market, has been particularly robust through the COVID recovery," Jude Bricker, chief executive of Sun Country, said during a Friday morning call with analysts.

Bricker, in reporting results Thursday evening after market close, called it "an historically strong second quarter, in what is typically a seasonally weaker quarter for us."

For the second quarter ending June 30, Sun Country reported net income of $21 million compared with a loss of $4 million for the year-ago period.

The leisure carrier reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 40 cents vs. a loss of 3 cents in the year-ago period. Despite the improvement, investors punished the company's stock Friday, sending it down more than 18%, after missing Wall Street's expected EPS by a penny.

The Twin Cities airline typically sees highest demand for its flights during winter and spring break holidays when Minnesotans flee the winter doldrums. The shoulder seasons — like late spring and early fall — tend to be down periods for Sun Country.

But total operating revenue rose about 19% to $261 million during the April-June period this year. Revenue climbed across the carrier's three core businesses — scheduled passenger service, charter and cargo service for Amazon — the airline said. Meanwhile, the total average fare rose 2.7%, Bricker said.

Notable highlights:

  • Named the best low-cost airline in North America by Skytrax at the 2023 World Airline Awards.
  • Added nonstop flying from Milwaukee to both Orlando and Phoenix, and increased route frequency between Milwaukee and Cancun in winter.
  • The company repurchased 416,751 shares at an average price of $17.82 during the second quarter. The board of directors approved an additional $30 million of buyback authority, which brings the current repurchase authorization to $32.8 million.

Sun Country calls itself a new breed of hybrid low-cost air carrier. The carrier flies throughout the United States and to destinations in Mexico, Central America, Canada and the Caribbean.

The stock, which has fluctuated between $13.25 and $23.80 per share over the past 52 weeks, closed at $16.60 Friday.