Minutes Report Names Allegiant Air Possibly 'Most Dangerous' US Airline

CBS News

CBS News

The parent company of Allegiant Air faced calls for an inquiry into its safety record and a sharp drop in its stock price after a report by CBS News' 60 Minutes alleged the United States budget airline suffers a high number of mechanical problems. The company is now in the process of phasing out some of its older planes, such as the MD-80 that are known for having more mechanical issues than others.

As Allegiant Air went on the defense Monday in the wake of a national news report questioning its safety, travel experts and customers in two of its IL feeder markets - including the Quad-Cities - had mixed reactions.

An Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 passenger jet takes off from the Monterey airport in Monterey, California, February 26, 2012.

O'Neill says MD-80s haven't flown in and out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway in more than a year after the airport underwent a full transition.

Allegiant Air offers flights from Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth to Myrtle Beach in SC, as well as Daytona Beach, Orlando and Fort Myers in Florida.

Allegiant is among the airlines that serves Stewart International Airport in Orange County.

60 Minutes also pointed a finger at the Federal Aviation Administration, which over the last three years has switched its priorities from actively enforcing safety rules with fines, warning letters and sanctions-which become part of the public record-to working quietly with the airlines behind the scenes to fix the problems.

In a statement, Eric Gust, Allegiant Air's vice-president of operations, accused CBS of telling a "false narrative".

"Allegiant Air has experienced issues in the past, like any growing airline, but has worked to correct them".

60 Minutes also spoke to a pilot who claimed that he was sacked for an "evacuation that was entirely unwarranted" in a separate incident after flight attendants reported smoke in the cabin.

We obtained a 2013 FAA report showing systemic safety and regulatory issues. "We just wanted to get our feet back on the ground", passenger Ken Naef told WCAX News after the incident.

The FAA says it is committed to pursuing the highest level of safety and welcomes any outside review.

"But I certainly hope the negative publicity will spur improvements - newer planes, better maintenance schedules".

Ratliff said that there are frequent interventions or fines that are imposed by the FAA with all commercial aviation. "Anything less could lead to disastrous consequences", Nelson wrote.

Allegiant says it began making necessary changes after a federal investigation in 2015.

In fact, Lowe, a certified travel counselor, helped a client book a flight Monday on Allegiant to Florida next fall. Some also received a comment from Allegiant indicating officials would be willing to discuss any concerns in a private forum.

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