January 21, 2019

Allegiant Air under fire after '60 Minutes' investigation raises safety concerns

17 April 2018, 04:48 | Joann Bryant

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A local travel agent is disputing a report from 60 Minutes that claimed Allegiant Airlines has placed passengers on planes with safety or maintenance issues.

Sunday's program opened with, "For the past seven months, we have been scrutinizing "service difficulty reports" filed by Allegiant with the FAA".

They detailed incidents like cabin pressure loss, unscheduled landings, aborted takeoffs and emergency descents.

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

In a separate incident in September 2017, one passenger of Allegiant Flight 514 said the plane's cabin began to fill with smoke shortly after landing in Fresno, California.

It has come to our attention that the story was instigated by a terminated employee, now engaged in a lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the company.

Allegiant air is a low-priced carrier that is one of the country's most profitable airlines.

According to Business Insider, today Allegiant Air sent customers a letter from its vice president of operations, Eric Gust (the same person who provided the bland statement above to 60 minutes) that said, "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".

But 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft got John Duncan, the FAA's head of Flight Standards, to face the cameras, peppering him with questions about how the FAA was addressing incidents with Allegiant's fleet.

New questions are being asked about an airline that serves the Bellingham International airport. FAA officials told 60 Minutes the issues highlighted in the report had been addressed and fixed. The airline later blasted 60 Minutes for its research and conclusions. Wolfe Research raised Allegiant Air from a market perform rating to an outperform rating in a report on Thursday, February 1st. We have safely carried almost 90 million passengers since beginning operations in 2001.

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). "In this role he oversees all system pilots and pilot training operations, regulatory compliance and flight standards, and the safety and security of all operations, team members and passengers". He said the airline complies with all FAA requirements, and that any suggestion the airline muzzled employees "is offensive and defamatory".

None of the 77 incidents prompted enforcement action from the Federal Aviation Administration, which doesn't compare airline breakdown records to look for warning signs.

But Allegiant has been retiring those MD-80 planes, which frequently encounter service problems.

The FAA increased its monitoring of Allegiant in 2016 because of labor tension with its pilots.

If 60 Minutes had been interested in current information, they would have reported that today, according to just-released Department of Transportation data, Allegiant is a leader in reliability, with the second-lowest cancelation rate among all US airlines.

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