First direct flights to warm destinations take off from RST | Olmsted County

Amy Stewart

Thursday afternoon, Sun Country Airlines launched its new non-stop service from Rochester to Ft. Myers hours ahead of its first direct flight to Phoenix from RST.

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Affordable flights to warm weather spots are taking off from the Med City for the first time.


Sun Country Airlines launched its new non-stop service from Rochester to Fort Meyers Thursday afternoon, hours ahead of its first direct flight to Phoenix from RST. The Fowler family was onboard Sun Country’s near-capacity inaugural flight to South Florida, excited to thaw out by the beach without the hassle of making the drive to Minneapolis.


“The airport is so calm, and so much less with four kids to navigate through than going to the cities and maybe fighting the roads, and being there earlier, and all of those things. This is just a go-to spot for us,” said passenger Emily Fowler.


In addition to debuting new destinations, Sun Country’s arrival is also bringing another element to travel at RST. The airport’s executive director John Reed tells KIMT travel trends have changed since the start of the pandemic, and offering new ways to say ‘sayonara’ to the Minnesota snow will attract a different style of traveler to RST’s gates.


“Traditionally, we’ve been very business-focused as an airport.” Reed continued, “business travelers, as a whole across the United States, have really kind of slowed down. A lot of them are looking at other opportunities, and ways to do business. They’ll be back, but what has led the way is the leisure travel, or to traditional, warm weather, vacation-style markets. People have the opportunity to take families, and Sun Country offers a great way to do that right here locally.”


Med City Mayor Kim Norton joined airport and airline staff in cheering on passengers boarding Sun Country’s first flight out of Rochester. She hopes flight options will continue expanding at RST, increasing non-stop travel opportunities for residents and visitors alike.


“Minnesotans are familiar with Sun Country’s name for convenient and affordable travel and these new destinations will make it even easier to enjoy travel options to popular destinations for our residents and visitors,” Norton said.


Flights to Fort Meyers will run twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. Phoenix flights will depart on Mondays and Fridays.

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