Northern Minnesota residents and businesses flying out of the Twin Cities with Sun Country Airlines can now start their travels in Duluth.
Through a partnership with the Landline bus company, Sun County is connecting the Northland to its flights through ground transportation — with hopes of expanding the partnership to other northern Minnesota communities next year. Customers can start booking Thursday, with the first flights through the partnership leaving Nov. 4.
With one ticket, the bus company will transport people from the Duluth International Airport to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for their Sun Country flights. Travelers' luggage will be checked and processed from the bus to their flight.
If transportation delays occur, the companies will rebook travelers for the next bus or flight, Landline founder David Sunde said.
“In essence, we are taking responsibility for getting you to your final destination on time and as best we can, no matter what happens,” Sunde said.
The number of Landline passengers is expected to significantly grow because of the new travel option, Sunde said.
“Ultimately, we want to see way more people using the Duluth airport. And we want to be a really nice complementary option for folks in Duluth who might be looking to save money when they're going on vacation or might be small-business owners and (are) slightly more cost conscious,” Sunde said.
By capturing people who typically travel to MSP for flights — otherwise called leakage — more people will travel through the DLH, said airport spokeswoman Natalie Peterson.
“It keeps them from starting their trip at MSP and brings them into our doors — so that is a positive for us,” she said.
The increase in people will bring additional revenue through concessions and parking. Landline also leases space from the airport in its facilities, she said.
A new transportation carrier will drive down rates, as Sun Country will now be competing with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, she said.
"Our rates have continued to fall and become a lot more competitive due to the addition of American Airlines. Now with this, it's looked at as another form of competition," Peterson said.
Europe has similar transportation networks, and Sunde said future cities in the partnership may include Bemidji, Brainerd, Rochester, Eau Claire, La Crosse and Fargo — or anything within a four-hour radius of MSP.
Basic Landline prices won’t change, said Sunde. And the price of Duluth-Sun Country flights will fluctuate just like any airline tickets do. The tickets will be available on the airline’s website, as well as other booking sites like Expedia or Kayak.
Landline launched in Duluth earlier this year.