- REUTERS/Michael Fiala
- A CBS 60 Minutes report has found that Allegiant Air’s planes are three and half times more likely to have mid-air mechanical failures than rival US airlines.
- The report alleges that the low-cost carrier operates with a culture that puts profits ahead of safety.
- Allegiant Air attacked the report, calling it grossly misleading.
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. This is according to Federal Aviation Administration documents obtained by CBS 60 Minutes in a scathing report on the low-cost carrier’s safety record.
“Public documents show an alarming number of aborted takeoffs, cabin pressure loss, emergency descents, and unscheduled landings,” CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft said in the report that aired on Sunday. “Yet for the most part, Allegiant’s difficulties have managed to stay under the radar of the flying public.”
The report also alleges that Allegiant has a culture of putting profits ahead of the safety.
Allegiant Air, which is owned by Allegiant Travel Company, was not immediately available for comment. However, the airline did send customers a letter from its vice president of operation Captain Eric Gust which attacked the 60 Minutes report and defended Allegiant’s safety record.
“I want to tell you personally that I am outraged and astounded by the irresponsible, grossly misleading story aired by CBS 60 Minutes,” Gust said in the letter. “The story is outdated, bears no resemblance to the Allegiant I know, and shows a real and troubling misunderstanding of the FAA’s rigorous oversight of Allegiant and all US airlines.”
In addition, Gust alleges that the 60 Minutes report was “instigated” by an ex-employee that is trying to extract money from Allegiant.
The Nevada-based low-cost carrier boasts a fleet of around 100 mostly second-hand Airbus A320-family and McDonnell-Douglas MD80 series jets. According to Airfleets.net, the average age of Allegiant’s fleet is 18.7 years.
According to the report, most of the mechanical issues can be attributed to Allegiant’s fleet of around 30 MD80s which are an average of 28 years old, ancient by modern aviation standards. However, the airline expects to retire its MD fleet by November.
The CBS segment also hit out at the FAA’s lack of enforcement actions against Allegiant’s systemic safety issues.
In the agency’s defense, the FAA Associate administrator Ali Bahrami said in a letter that “The FAA is vigilant in scrutinizing the actions of all airlines and is prepared to act on all information.”
In addition, Bahrami said the FAA ongoing evaluation of the airline’s safety compliance has not discovered any significant or systemic issues with Allegiant’s current operations during its 2016 audit of the airline.
The FAA also reported a sharp decline over the past three years in the number of issues experienced by Allegiant flights.