Budget Airline Allegiant Calls Out Critical '60 Minutes' Report

Budget Airline Allegiant Calls Out Critical '60 Minutes' Report

Allegiant's Vice President of Operations Capt. Eric Gust defended the company and issued a statement saying the report by "60 Minutes" is unoriginal and outdated.

60 Minutes reports that passengers were not told what they were breathing, but the airline confirmed that the fumes were Skydrol 4, a hazardous hydraulic fluid.

"Allegiant operates under a federally-approved Safety Management System which includes avenues for anonymous, non-disciplinary employee reporting of any safety concerns". 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. He said the FAA is being "a safety partner" to the airlines, and "it is working".

Former National Transport Safety Board member John Goglia also revealed that Allegiant's 60 unscheduled landings and 46 in-flight emergencies were alarming considering the size of the airline.

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

On Monday, we spoke with Allegiant passengers in St. Pete. It's unclear what Allegiant means by "concerns".

The story highlights how Allegiant's problems come from the confluence of its aggressive business model and a safety culture aviation experts find to be lagging.

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The report also aired a long-running accusation by the Teamsters union local representing Allegiant pilots that the airline discourages pilots from reporting mechanical problems with planes.

Users on social media were shocked by the report.

"True or false, that was 30 minutes of awful publicity for Allegiant", Joseph DeNardi, an airline analyst for Stifel, said of the "60 Minutes" broadcast.

The FAA has been fairly passive toward correcting Allegiant's difficulties, "60 Minutes" said. "There were no frills, but for the price of the tickets, we didn't expect any".

The report included, among other examples, a 2015 flight where a pilot evacuated passengers from the plane after learning there was smoke in the cabin. (See Defendants' Revised Motion for Summary Judgment, Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County, NV, Case No. A-15-727524-C.) Surprisingly, the 60 Minutes presentation of Mr. Kinzer's case omits this publicly-available side of the story. FAA officials took no enforcement action against Allegiant and said they were satisfied that the airline was addressing problems found by inspectors.

Ratliff also said he trust the FAA to put safety first by making sure an airline is doing everything right, and that Allegiant is under pressure from this report to be doing everything right now. "They must adhere to FAA rules and regulations and it appears they continue to do that".

In total, Allegiant has shed $293 million in market value, or about $2.4 billion, as a result of the 60 Minutes segment, which aired Sunday.

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