MENDOTA HEIGHTS (AP) -- Sun County Airlines will continue making its financial reports public after the U.S. Department of Transportation denied a request to keep them private for competitive reasons.
Donald Bright, the department's assistant director for airline information, said in a letter released Thursday that airline competition is best served when the quarterly financial reports are public.
"If (DOT) withholds Sun Country's information, this would create an uneven playing field and give unequal treatment to other carriers who file the same information," Bright wrote.
The public disclosure policy has been in effect since the 1950s.
Sun Country spokeswoman Tammy Lee said the privately owned Mendota Heights-based carrier was very disappointed by the rejection.
She said the DOT missed a chance to protect a small discount airline and its passengers from what she called a relentless campaign by Northwest Airlines to drive Sun Country out of business in the Twin Cities.
Sun Country also had requested confidential treatment of some reports regarding passenger traffic.
"In effect, the DOT has given (Northwest) access to our marketing plan," Lee said. "DOT is not interested in taking aggressive steps to protect consumers."
Jon Austin, a spokesman for Northwest, did not comment on Bright's decision, which can be appealed to a higher-ranking administrator.
But he took issue with Sun Country's repeated accusations that Northwest is trying to drive Sun Country out of business.
"It sounds to me like Sun Country should consider changing its name to Whine Country," Austin said.
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