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Delta Adds Flight to Brand-New Airport

Delta is the first U.S. airline to serve the popular tourist destination

DL_Delta_738_SkyTeam_N3761R_737_800_SEA_katie_bailey

A Delta 737-800 in Seattle. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Mexico is among the top vacation destinations among Americans. Cancún is arguably the most popular, with Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta close behind.

However, one particular vacation spot has been notably hard to get to despite its popularity. Tulum, a city on Mexico’s southeastern Atlantic coast, boasts beaches, parks, forests, and ancient ruins like many other tourist hotspots in the region. But it is only now getting its first nonstop flight on an American carrier, as Delta Air Lines has announced it will launch a new route from Atlanta to Tulum in March 2024.

Services will be offered daily and year-round onboard a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The aircraft used on this route will feature 16 first-class recliners, 36 Comfort+ seats with extra legroom, and an additional 108 normal economy seats, for a total of 160 seats.

Current Flight Options to Tulum

Nonstop flights are an improvement from the current option. Today, many travelers fly to Cancún, which is nearby, and drive 90 minutes south to Tulum. While safety might not be an issue between major tourist hubs, cost and time are. A private transfer can run $100 and add 90 minutes to the overall travel journey, per The Points Guy.

A Delta 737 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

This hassle wasn’t due to airlines’ resistance to flying into Tulum. Instead, the city is only getting an airport for the first time this winter. Tulum’s Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport is set to open in December 2023. At the time of writing, the airport’s website reports that preparations are 65% complete.

Planned Services to Tulum

Though the airport is brand new, there is already a selection of airlines preparing to operate into the vacation hub. Aeromexico and Viva Aerobus have been selling flights into Tulum since September, both from Mexico City.

Viva Aerobus will have the privilege of operating the very first flight into the airport. It will fly in from Felipe Ángeles International Airport, Mexico City’s secondary airport. Aeromexico will fly in from Mexico City International about 30 minutes later and add a second service later that day.

Viva Aerobus will also start flights from Mexico City International as well as Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Tijuana to Tulum later in December. It will surely not be the only Mexican low-cost airline to fly into Tulum.

Tulum Airport’s Future Potential

There is, of course, the question of whether flights to Tulum might cannibalize demand on flights to Cancún. While some demand might be transferred over, it is likely that a large majority of flights to Cancún will remain, if not all of them. Adding flights to Tulum will likely do nothing but increase demand to both destinations by freeing up space on flights to Cancún. More people will be able to fly nonstop and will either switch over to these nonstop flights or choose to take flights to Cancún with connections through Mexico City, as these flights will also likely have extra room.

The real question is how many other U.S.  airlines will add flights to Tulum. There is certainly demand for the other major carriers to add at least one daily flight. Low-cost airlines will also certainly enter the market as a cheap alternative. Tulum will probably not have the same number of daily flights or destinations that Cancún does, but passengers will certainly be willing to transfer the $100 they spend on hours of driving to a nonstop flight that lengthens their vacation time.

One might even ask whether there will be room for connecting flights from Cancún to Tulum. The chances of this are slimmer. Viva Aerobus and Volaris both operate large networks out of Cancún. If they can find a way to make a connecting flight to Tulum through Cancún cheaper than flying nonstop, passengers may be equally attracted: they lose nothing by paying less money to stop in the airport they always go to and board on a faster ride on to Tulum.

Tulum’s airport has a lot of potential for expansion. It is somewhat surprising that more airlines have yet to launch flights there, but the airline did recently shorten its timeline to open from April 2024 to December 2023. This may incentivize many airlines to launch flights when the official summer season begins, just in time for universities to go on break in April.

John McDermott

Author

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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