Allegiant Air’s aircraft were four times more likely to break down in flight, requiring an unexpected landing, than other U.S.-based airlines, according to analysis of flight and maintenance records by the Tampa Bay Times.
The low-cost carrier’s planes broke down 12.2 times per 10,000 flights. The average for a U.S. airline is about 3 times.
A pool of aviation experts reviewed documents assembled by the Tampa Bay Times’ investigative team. Seven experts said the records “suggest a scattershot approach to maintenance.”
Allegiant first declined interview requests, the story states.
After TBT reporters presented their findings to the airline, Allegiant asked to meet.
“I can’t sit here and say that you’re wrong,” Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr. told the newspaper. “We’re very much focused on running a better operation.”
The piece, “Breakdown at 30,000,” is a great investigative piece. Distressingly, it took a newspaper to piece these incidents together, as the Federal Aviation Administration “doesn’t compare airline breakdown records to look for warning signs,” the paper reported.
Allegiant Air is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Several years ago, it expressed interest in flying scheduled commercial flights out of Paine Field in Everett.
Old MD-80s make up about half of the airline’s fleet. However, Allegiant has been shifting to newer Airbus A319s and A320s. All are second-hand or leased airplanes, according to data from Airfleets.net.
Allegiant also has 12 A320s on order.