Florida-based ultra-LCC Spirit Airlines plans to take delivery of two more Airbus A320neos this year and to resume regular deliveries next year after problems with its Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered airliners caused the carrier to stop accepting them.

CEO Robert Fornaro said at the APEX Expo conference in Boston, Massachusetts that industry-wide problems with the geared turbofan engine both extended Spirit’s delivery schedule and limited the destinations it plans to serve with the fuel-efficient A320neo. Spirit now has five of the single-aisle aircraft; it temporarily parked three of them last year because of engine problems.

In October 2016, the Miramar, Florida-based ULCC became the first US airline to take delivery of the A320neo. It has ordered 55 total airliners—50 from Airbus and five from leasing company AerCap.

“We opted to adjust our delivery stream and that starts to resume later this year going into next year,” Fornaro said. “It’s been frustrating, but I have to say both Airbus and Pratt [have] been pretty good partners. We’ve kind of worked through the issues, but it’s safe to say we haven’t got the benefits that we would have liked to have seen. Over time, we hope to correct that as we start getting new deliveries.”

While Spirit has derived fuel savings from the A320neos it already operates, it has held back the type from some planned destinations. “In terms of the longer-range capability, we haven’t been as aggressive,” Fornaro said. “We’ve flown the airplane basically between key cities—we don’t fly it to Latin America, Central America at this point.”

Spirit will take delivery of two more A320neos in the fourth quarter, and 14 more in 2019. As of mid-2019, all its deliveries through 2021 will be A320neos, Fornaro and CCO Matthew Klein said. The all-Airbus carrier will have 128 total aircraft as of December.

Fornaro, who replaced long-serving chief executive Ben Baldanza as Spirit president and CEO in January 2016, will step down from the position this year. CFO Ted Christie will succeed him as CEO.

Before joining Spirit, Fornaro served as president and CEO of AirTran before it was acquired by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines in 2011. AirTran operated 140 aircraft of two types—the Boeing 717 and 737—at the time of the sale. Based on that experience, Fornaro said he would not be opposed to diversifying Spirit’s fleet, possibly by acquiring a smaller narrowbody such as the Airbus A220-300 or the Embraer E195-E2.

“The Embraer and the A220 create more diversification options, so those are thing we have to consider,” he said. “If we got a different fleet type, it wouldn’t be 10 [aircraft], it would have to be a substantial number—let’s say 35 to 50—to get the right economics. I’m not uncomfortable doing it.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com