Sun Country eyes quicker used jet purchases with IPO funds to fuel growth, CEO says

March 17 (Reuters) - Sun Country Airlines Holdings Inc , flush with cash after a successful stock market debut on Wednesday, could use the funds to accelerate the purchase of used jets and fuel its growth strategy over the next year, Chief Executive Jude Bricker told Reuters.

The U.S. low-cost carrier backed by private-equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc raised $218.2 million in its initial public offering and shares jumped around 44% in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

The debut comes as U.S. airlines begin to emerge from a pandemic-driven crisis that has created opportunities in the used jet market after airlines around the globe reduced their fleets or filed for bankruptcy.

“There are plenty of planes out there and we intend to get some new deals,” Bricker said in an interview.

Prices for second-hand jets have fallen by about 25% since the onset of the pandemic, said Chief Financial Officer Dave Davis.

Minnesota-based Sun Country, which operates passenger, charter and cargo flights, has based its business model around mid-life Boeing Co 737 NGs.

Sun Country plans to increase its passenger fleet to 50 from 31 by 2023. (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago Editing by Matthew Lewis)