Tulum is taking off

Meagan Drillinger

The much-anticipated Tulum Airport saw its first domestic flights on Dec. 1, with international flights expected at the end of March. This news comes in tandem with the launch of the first portion of the Maya Train project, which debuted on Dec. 15.

The first phase of airport operations includes daily Aeromexico and Viva Aerobus flights originating from Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Tijuana and Toluca. It is expected that the airport will welcome 700,000 arrivals in its first month of operation. 

Future airlines that will begin operations in 2024 into Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport (TQO) or Aeropuerto Internacional de Tulum, include Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and, most recently, JetBlue. Delta is expected to begin service between Atlanta and Tulum on March 28. American Airlines will fly twice daily from Dallas/Fort Worth and daily from Charlotte and Miami in March, as well. United Airlines has announced routes from Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare and Houston. JetBlue will begin service from JFK on June 13. Spirit will fly from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. 

Part of the airport facilities include a runway that is longer than two miles as well as a terminal with a capacity for 5.5 million annual passengers. The airport is 15 miles from downtown Tulum, connected by road to Highway 307, the main artery that runs from Cancun south toward Chetumal. This access to the highway gives the airport easy access to the Tulum station that will be part of the Maya Train.

Maya Train starts chugging

The nearly $30 billion passenger railroad has been a passion project for President Manuel Lopez Obrador since he took office at the end of 2018. It was the cornerstone of his larger vision to stimulate the economy of Southern Quinana Roo. The train has been the topic of controversy since before ground was broken, calling into question the environmental effects, its imppact on remote villages that will soon be exposed to tourism at unprecedented volumes and the unprecedented cost for an infrastructure project.

Still, the first leg of the 1,500-kilometer route launched, connecting Cancun to the city of Campeche. Tickets for this leg cost $68, and the journey takes six hours, which is roughly how long it takes to drive the same route by car. It is expected that the entire train route will be in operation by February.

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