Hollister Mayor Lamar Patton proclaimed commercial air service is returning to the Branson Airport after Frontier Airlines announced last year they would no longer be providing service to the region.
Airport and local elected officials announced on Tuesday, March 21, Sun Country Airlines would begin providing commercial service into the airport starting at the end of August.
“The Branson Airport is very excited for Sun Country to bring its low fares to the Branson and greater Ozarks region,” Branson Airport Executive Director Stan Field said. “Making it easier for visitors to travel to our region with convenient and affordable flights is something Branson Airport has been committed to since opening in 2009.”
Sun Country will be flying from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Branson on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights are currently available on Sun Country’s website for $49 each way round trip.
“These tickets are going to be very affordable for our tourists and our residents,” Field said. “If we’re going to have a perfect schedule, this Thursday and Sunday schedule is perfect for us.”
Field said the airline plans in 2024 to offer service from April through November. He credited teamwork from local chambers of commerce, the cities of Branson and Hollister, the Taney County Partnership, and the Taney County Commissioners for making the arrival of Sun Country a possibility.
He said the community taking advantage of the flights is going to be a key to helping the airport expand service with Sun Country and to draw in other airlines.
“When Sun Country sees their planes full every time they come to Branson, their natural reaction is going to be to open up more flights and open up more destinations,” Field said. “It’s important we get behind this and promote it every chance we can. I hope Sun Country will be a partner with us here in Branson for a very long time.”
Western Taney County District Commissioner Brandon Williams said the airport and the partnership with Sun Country is going to provide new potential business opportunities for the region beyond the tourists who will come to visit.
“We hope when they fly in they’ll take the time to explore Taney County,” Williams said.
Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Executive Director Kirk Elmquist showed visible excitement about the announcement of Sun Country’s arrival.
“We are very excited to see 737s landing here in Branson!” Elmquist said. “That’s going to be exciting to see big birds bringing big groups of people in here. Aug. 31 through Nov. 19 is a perfect time in 2023.”
Elmquist called ease of travel key to bringing people to the area and made a specific invitation to veterans in Minnesota.
“We’re excited to invite the 377,000 veterans that live in Minnesota,” Elmquist said. “We don’t just celebrate Veterans Day, we celebrate Veterans Year in this community. We applaud your service and we want you to bring your families.”
He even took a light-hearted jab at the colder weather of Minnesota.
“When it gets a little chilly in Minnesota, come on down to Branson and Hollister, Missouri, because we’d love to have you,” Elmquist said. “We’ll show you a couple of our lakes. They may not be like your lakes, but ours are pretty good for catching some fish, and you don’t have to cut a hole in them to go fish. You’ll like it. It’s a lot of fun.”
After the press conference, Field told reporters a major issue which airlines had been dealing with and had presented some challenges to Branson airport was a lack of pilots, which caused airlines like Frontier to drop some routes and consolidate their offerings. He said nationwide the shortage appears to be easing and he hopes the airport will be able to get other carriers to bring service to Branson Airport.
Field said in addition to Sun Country bringing commercial service back to the airport, Branson Airport has seen an upturn in private flights, and said 2023 is trending to set records.
Patton told Branson Tri-Lakes News he’s thrilled to see Sun Country’s arrival.
“It’s an exciting day to get air service kicked off again this year,” Patton said. “I’m excited to see the visitors who can come experience what we who live here all enjoy, the mountains, the golf, the shopping, the entertainment, and the family fun. I’m excited for Stan and his team at the Airport who worked so hard to get this done.”
More information or booking flights can be found at suncountry.com.
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