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Spirit postpones nonstop Tulum service

Spirit Airlines is postponing plans to fly to Mexico’s newest major airport before it’s even opened to international airlines.

In a statement to TPG on Wednesday afternoon, Spirit confirmed it is postponing the start of its planned service to Tulum’s Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (TQO) indefinitely.

The carrier will be reaching out to customers with flights already booked to offer alternative flights or a refund, a spokesperson said.

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The airline blames the route postponement on ongoing operational constraints related to the defects on a number of Airbus A321neo engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney. Airline executives noted continued challenges posed by the defects during Spirit’s earnings call last week. Dozens of Spirit’s jets are grounded due to the ongoing issue, which has become a major head wind as Spirit tries to return to profitability — and forced the airline to make other route cuts in recent months.

Spirit was set to join a host of other major U.S. airlines in launching service to the new Tulum airport once it opens to international carriers March 28. The airport has been operating for domestic Mexico flights since December.

Spirit had plans to serve Tulum from both Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Ishrion Aviation was first to report the route cutback on social media, which TPG confirmed with the carrier.

Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport in Tulum, Mexico. KORAL CARBALLO/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

“We apologize to our guests for any inconvenience,” Spirit said in a statement to TPG. “We look forward to the opportunity to serve Tulum in the future and will share more once we have an updated schedule.”

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What other options do travelers have?

Spirit continues to offer service to Cancun International Airport (CUN), 70-plus miles from Cancun — or a drive of about two hours in typical traffic conditions.

Meanwhile, other U.S. airlines are moving forward with plans to fly to the new airport in Tulum.

As of April, American Airlines will serve Tulum from its hubs at Miami International Airport (MIA), Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

Routes offered by U.S. airlines to Tulum as of April. CIRIUM

United Airlines will fly to Tulum from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Newark Liberty International Airport (IAH) and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Its service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) launches later this year.

Delta Air Lines will offer nonstop service from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

Bottom line

Spirit sees this route postponement as just that — a temporary shuttering of its plans for Tulum service. As airline officials noted in their statement, the carrier hopes to reinstate Tulum plans once practical, offering travelers an option to fly to the new airport aboard an ultra-low-cost carrier.

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