ibusinesslines.com August 18, 2018

Air Allegiant's "60 minutes" report released after seven months

17 April 2018, 05:07 | Kelvin Horton

Shares of the budget airline were down sharply in pre-market trading

Allegiant plane in the air

A recent "60 Minutes" report has raised some questions about the safety of Allegiant Air flights.

Management with Grand Rapids travel agency Breton Travel said the company would be closely monitoring the fallout following the report and consider whether to continue booking with the airline.

More than 100 serious mechanical incidents were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration during a less than two-year period ending last October, according to the report.

Lisa Cozzolino started to panic as Allegiant Air Flight 844 circled over Pinellas County, burning off fuel for an emergency landing.

"We're satisfied that ...we are taking the appropriate actions with regard to Allegiant and every other carrier that we work with to make sure that those problems have been appropriately dealt with", John Duncan, the FAA's executive director of flight standards, told "60 Minutes".

They showed, on average, the airline was almost three and a half times more likely to have mid-air breakdowns than American, United, Delta, JetBlue and Spirit. Most flights out of Mesa are operated with Airbus aircraft. They have not been built since 1999, almost 20 years ago.

The report attributed that safety record in part to the 28-year average age of planes in its MD-80 fleet. Nearly 30 percent of Allegiant's planes are "antiquated" McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 aircraft, the program said. CBS stands by its reporting and said the 2015 incident is "just one of the incidents detailed in the report". The report also aired a long-running accusation by the Teamsters union local representing Allegiant pilots that the airline discourages pilots from reporting mechanical problems with planes. "We'd be surprised if there isn't an impact to bookings in the nearish term", Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi writes Monday.

"It is unfortunate and disappointing that CBS 60 Minutes has chosen to air a false narrative about Allegiant and the FAA".

Allegiant is St.Pete Clearwater Airport's biggest customer with more than 14,000 flights a year and $2 million in airport revenue. The pilot later said he believed the plane would have crashed if it had become airborne.

Neither DeNardi and Syth have ever flown the airline, though both said they would have no reservations doing so. In total, the airline flies to 120 destinations.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Allegiant Air's parent company, Allegiant Travel Co., saw stock prices fall 8 percent on Friday when previews of the "60 Minutes" piece began airing. It said a pilot who was sacked after ordering an evacuation of a plane which was a focus of the report was not fired for putting passenger safety ahead of airline assets, as the report said, but because the airline determined he unnecessarily evacuated a plane "at great risk to the crew and passengers" even though there "was no smoke, fire, or an aircraft malfunction".

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