Former Braniff pilots came together to launch Sun Country with MSP as its home base. MLT Vacations Inc., a Twin Cities-based provider of flight-and-hotel packages, was a key financial backer.
The charter airline performed well with flights to sunny destinations during Minnesota’s cold-weather months. As Sun Country became more popular, other airlines noticed the trend and competition increased. Sun Country’s original owners put together a deal to sell the airline to Northwest in the mid-1980s, but dissenting shareholders blocked the idea.
Sun Country was eventually sold to B. John Barry, a banker, in 1988. By the early 1990s, Sun Country was the third largest charter airline in the U.S., aided in large part by revenue from military charters during the first Gulf War.