Budget Airline Allegiant Calls Out Critical '60 Minutes' Report

Allegiant plane in the air

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 U.S. airlines. Citing reports the airline filed with the FAA, "60 Minutes" uncovered an unusually high number of emergencies on the low-priced airline's flights - things like failed engines or aborted takeoffs.

"60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft said in an "Overtime" segment that "60 Minutes" got "no cooperation" from either Allegiant or the FAA in the beginning of reporting the story. One case involved a former pilot who was sacked after making an emergency landing after smoke filled the cabin.

"We are aware of Sunday's 60 Minutes report involving Allegiant Air and its safety record", Concord City Manager Lloyd Payne said in a statement.

The agency said that Allegiant's reported incidents rate has trended downward in recent years, including diversions and emergency landings, with Allegiant having reported 0.0029 events per 1,000 departures in 2017.

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.

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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. Additionally, we expect our team members to follow all company policies and practice strict adherence to FAA regulations and guidelines.

"CBS produced a one-sided narrative by cherry-picking interviews and ignoring publicly-available facts". That pilot, Jason Kinzer, claims that he was wrongfully terminated after an evacuation. It said a pilot who was sacked after ordering an evacuation of a plane which was a focus of the report was not fired for putting passenger safety ahead of airline assets, as the report said, but because the airline determined he unnecessarily evacuated a plane "at great risk to the crew and passengers" even though there "was no smoke, fire, or an aircraft malfunction". Gust also said Allegiant complies with all FAA requirements and participates in numerous voluntary safety programs.

"The FAA has conducted ongoing evaluations of Allegiant's safety compliance, as it does with all carriers, and has not identified any significant or systemic problems with the carrier's current operation", FAA Associate Administrator Ali Bahrami wrote. ValuEngine raised Allegiant Air from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, March 7th. Between Jan. 2016 and October 2017, there were 60 unscheduled landings and 46 in-flight emergencies including an explosive engine incident last July. Our workforce is made up of more than 4,000 dedicated and hard-working people who wake up every day thinking about how to move our customers safely from one place to another.

"60 Minutes" requested mechanical interruption summary reports from the no-frills carrier and seven other major airlines as part of their investigation from the Federal Aviation Administration - Allegiant was the only carrier that objected to the release of the documents.

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