Budget Airline Allegiant Calls Out Critical '60 Minutes' Report

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Allegiant Airlines, known for its super cheap airfares to leisure destinations, is responding to a 60 Minutes news report that calls into question the airline's safety.

Allegiant's vice president of operations, Capt. Eric Gust, issued a statement after the program that said the story was outdated and shows a "troubling misunderstanding" of the Federal Aviation Administration's safety oversight of airlines.

Allegiant was among the first low-priced carriers to fly out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids.

To see a response from the airline's vice president of operations, go to the bottom of this story.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, "60 Minutes" requested more than a year's worth of reports from the FAA regarding Allegiant and seven other airlines. Shares of Allegiant Air's parent company are tumbling in Monday, April 16, 2018, premarket trading following a "60 Minutes" investigation that expressed serious safety concerns about the airline. Finally, California Public Employees Retirement System increased its position in shares of Allegiant Air by 2.5% in the third quarter. The "60 Minutes" piece details an incident involving Captain Jason Kinzer, who was sacked in 2015 six weeks after turning around shortly after takeoff due to smoke in the cabin. "The story is outdated, bears no resemblance to the Allegiant I know, and shows a real and troubling misunderstanding of the FAA's rigorous oversight of Allegiant and all U.S. airlines".

But Kinzer's story is just one of the incidents detailed in the report. 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.

On its social media feed, Allegiant answered those who tweeted they were anxious by asking them to send a private message.

"We have reason to believe this story was instigated by a terminated employee", Allegiant wrote in a letter to employees. It's unclear what Allegiant means by "concerns".

The report said that Allegiant experienced more than 100 serious mechanical incidents including aborted takeoffs, loss of cabin pressure, and emergency landings. He told 60 Minutes that "for years he's tried to push Allegiant to clean up their operation".

Users on social media were shocked by the report. Allegiant told the Times after the review that the results gave the airline a clean bill of health.

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).

Within the report, the 60 Minutes corespondent interviewed a man by the name of John Goglia who is an expert witness who testifies on aviation issues.

An engine caught on fire mid-flight during one incident, while in another, hazardous hydraulic fluid dubbed Skydrol 4 filled a cabin still full of passengers.

The airline is swatting back at the "60 Minutes" report, criticizing the journalism in the report.

"Had anything been noted by the FAA that would have looked as though the airline was unsafe or was operating in a reckless fashion they would have suspended operations until everything was as it needed to be". Additionally, we expect our team members to follow all company policies and practice strict adherence to FAA regulations and guidelines.

Both DeNardi and Savanthi Syth, airline analyst at Raymond James, said they expect the airline to lose relatively few bookings because of the 60 Minutes report.

It says Allegiant had more than 40 in-flight emergencies or unscheduled landings in 2016, and is nearly four times more likely to experience a mid-flight breakdown than Delta, United or American airlines. That expansion, airport officials say, is to handle the more than 2.6 million passengers, a almost three-fold increase from 901,862 passengers in 2012, at the fast-growing air facility.

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