Senator wants review after '60 Minutes' report on Allegiant

Javier Howell
April 17, 2018

During Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes on CBS, numerous problems that have plagued low-priced airline Allegiant Air throughout the years were highlighted in a segment that has caused major waves in the airline industry.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation - which included a first-of-its kind analysis of federal aviation records - has found that the budget carrier's planes are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major US airlines.

Allegiant also posted a statement dismissing the incidents described in the show as "years old" and as having occurred before the company's latest FAA audit.

Allegiant Air is fighting to reassure travelers and protect its reputation after renewed questions about safety at the low-priced carrier. The report, citing FAA records obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, highlighted an alarming number of aborted takeoffs, emergency descents and unscheduled landings.

"True or false, that was 30 minutes of disgusting publicity for Allegiant", Joseph DeNardi, an airline analyst for Stifel, said of the "60 Minutes" broadcast.

Now, Allegiant says that pilot is pushing the story to CBS and paying one of the experts "60 Minutes" interviewed. "People Fox 4 spoke with expressed concerns about their safety in light of the story".

However, locally, Allegiant's record of poor on-time performance and unhelpful customer service has caused some travel agents to steer clear of the airline.

Though the airline has been upgrading its fleet, the Federal Aviation Administration continues to take no real steps in holding them publicly accountable.

It could be different for Allegiant, however, because the focus now is on whether it's safe to fly on the airline.

A spokesman for the airline, Vice President of Operations Eric Gust, called the 60 Minutes presentation "irresponsible" and "grossly misleading". As someone who flies with the airline up to six times a year, Boulais says he's seen first-hand crews checking the plane inside and out before takeoff. "To be clear, any employee who fails to report safety-related concerns through available channels is in violation of company policies, and may also be in violation of federal regulations".

Ratliff also said that of the 26,000 scheduled domestic flights in the US every day, a percentage have to make unscheduled landing and that happen all the time.

"We have to get home to Bozeman through Allegiant so I'm hoping that our plane is safe", says Walnum.

Jessica Stoffel was so afraid on Allegiant Flight 175 over Mesa, Ariz., that she grabbed the stranger next to her and squeezed his hand. That expansion, airport officials say, is to handle the more than 2.6 million passengers, a almost three-fold increase from 901,862 passengers in 2012, at the fast-growing air facility. To suggest that Allegiant would engage in the practice of asking team members to violate company and regulatory obligations is offensive and defamatory.

Allegiant Air's planes are three and half times more likely to have mid-air mechanical failures than American, Delta, United, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines.

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