Allegiant report 'disturbing' but air travel safe, says expert

Javier Stokes
April 17, 2018

"We found more than 100 serious mechanical incidents, including mid-air engine failures, smoke and fumes in the cabin, rapid descents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted take-offs", host Steve Kroft said Sunday night.

The report also found that Allegiant's planes have been almost 3 1/2 times more likely to have serious in-flight mechanical failures compared to other US based 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. They say that the airline serves smaller airports that are often not well served by major carriers and that it offers the low fares that are likely to keep customers booking flights.

Newsweek reports John Goglia, the former presidential appointee to the National Transport Safety Board, called the airline's record of 60 unscheduled landings and 46 in-flight emergencies "very, very high for an airline of its size".

The report of "60 minutes" also highlights an incident involving Captain Jason Kinzer, who was sacked in 2015 because smoke was found in the cabin shortly after the take off (sources say).

"We have reason to believe this story was instigated by a terminated employee", Allegiant wrote in a letter to employees.

Does Allegiant have more issues than other carriers?

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The CBS report updated reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, which said in 2015 that Allegiant planes were four more times than those of other USA airlines to make an unplanned landing because of mechanical problems.

The airline and some of the analysts who cover it say it is safe and on track to put many of its operational problems behind it. "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".

Another one of the claims Allegiant made was that CBS was working with old information.

According to its website, Allegiant Air has nearly 130 flights to and from destinations in the United States and Puerto Rico. "We have safely carried almost 90 million passengers since beginning operations in 2001". It has had to make several emergency landings, as well as delay flights, due to these troubles. It continues, "To suggest that Allegiant would engage in the practice of asking team members to violate company and regulatory obligations is offensive and defamatory". I can confidently say that our culture of safety continued to move in a positive direction, and that remains true today.

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

Abbotsford realtor Jonathan Gelderman said he has noticed a marked difference in Allegiant's on-time performance for flights out of the Bellingham International Airport since bringing newer planes on its routes from the airport.

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