BRANSON, Mo. – A commercial airline is back at the Branson Airport.
“This is a chance for us to start rebuilding,” said airport director Stan Field.
Sun Country Airlines is flying to and from Minneapolis just for the tourist season this year, ending services in November and starting back up in April 2024.
“This is the only reason we came here is because of Sun Country coming here,” said Bill Parks, who was returning home to Minneapolis from the Branson Airport.
With a commercial airline back, the Branson Airport views this as a way to expand and bring in more tourists to the city.
“The flight was pretty fast,” said traveler Jace Acker. “It was only an hour. It was actually a longer drive to the airport than the flight here was.”
“It’s a great thing that they’re doing here,” said Judy Pytel, who lives in Branson and was picking up friends who flew in town. “They brought their boys and we’re gonna fish, we’re gonna do all the things around here. Yeah, I was so excited to see that they were doing flights.”
This isn’t the first time Sun Country flew into the Branson Airport. The airline was one of the first ones here when the airport opened in 2009.
“The flights have been well received,” Field said. “I think that there’s a need to get it known to a lot of people. I talk to people every day who still don’t know that we’ve got Sun Country here. I think the more and more people become aware then it’s really gonna take off.”
Sun Country isn’t the only commercial airline that has flown out of Branson. Others, like Southwest, used Branson as a way to connect people to the Ozarks but none have stuck around.
Field said the 2020 pandemic took a heavy toll on commercial air service at the Branson Airport. He says he’s positive this airline will help the airport continue expanding.
“We know we’re going to be successful,” Field said. “The city deserves tourism that’ll support the air traveler wanting to come in and visit our location.”
Branson was hoping they would see a million and a half passengers a year when they first opened, but in 2022 they saw about 6,000 people boarding flights.