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Spirit sheds A320neo deliveries in 2018 after engine issues

Spirit Airlines will no longer take any Airbus A320neos in 2018, becoming the latest airline to adjust deliveries after widely-reported problems with the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine.

The ultra low-cost carrier says it has converted two of four A320neos for delivery in 2018 to A320ceos. These aircraft will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017, says chief financial officer Ted Christie.

The other two A320neos have been pushed into 2019, he says on an earnings call.

Spirit is frustrated by the problems it faced with the P&W GTF on its first A320neos, but believes the issues will be resolved, says Christie.

"The company felt it was important to de-risk its delivery stream going forward," he adds.

Spirit has five A320neos, but said earlier this month it had parked three of the aircraft. P&W confirmed to FlightGlobal that Spirit's engines faced a carbon air-seal problem that had been reported by other operators.

Christie says an interim fix has been installed on Spirit's engines that will extend their on-wing life. It is not immediately clear if the airline's A320neos have returned to service. A Spirit spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions.

A P&W spokesperson says the manufacturer continues to work with Spirit and other airlines to support their operations. She reiterates that P&W is on track to produce 350 to 400 engines this year.

P&W parent UTC said earlier this week that it will roll out an improvement package that will address the carbon air-seal issue. The fix has already been installed on 25% of the engines in service today and the remainder should be retrofitted by mid-May, said UTC chief executive Greg Hayes.

Spirit is in further talks with Airbus and P&W for the A320neo delays, says Christie, indicating that compensation is likely.

"We are in discussions with Pratt and Airbus to reach an agreement that provides us with the consideration we need and that supports the [A320]neo fleet in the short and long term," he says.

Spirit is the third airline in two weeks to report delays to Pratt-powered A320neo deliveries as a result of the engine issues. JetBlue Airways said on 25 April that it had switched three A321neos in 2018 to A321ceos. Last week, Mexico's Volaris said it will take delivery of fewer A320neo family aircraft this year.

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