Allegiant under fire after ‘60 Minutes’ safety report

Associated Press

Allegiant Air is fighting to reassure travelers and protect its reputation after renewed questions about safety at the low-cost carrier.

Safety experts say the numbers tell another story. There have been far too many aborted takeoffs, in-flight mechanical problems and emergency landings involving Allegiant planes in recent years.

The CBS program “60 Minutes” reported that Allegiant experienced more than 100 serious mechanical incidents on flights between January 2016 and October 2017.

“The number of inflight incidents that Allegiant has had speaks volumes, it is simply unacceptable,” Alan Price, a former chief pilot for Delta Air Lines, told The Associated Press.

Allegiant’s record of breakdowns appears related partly to the age of its fleet, particularly its MD-80 planes, which are nearly 28 years old on average and require more maintenance than newer planes.

The airline plans to retire all its MD-80s by the end of this year. In the meantime, they will continue to fly passengers from smaller airports to resort locations such as Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.

CBS said that Federal Aviation Administration records it got by filing a Freedom of Information Act request indicate that Allegiant flights were three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer an in-flight breakdown than flights operated by American, United, Delta, JetBlue or Spirit. 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.

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