Clearwater, FL -- We've been telling you for the past two years about issues with Allegiant Airlines. Emergency landings. Mechanical problems. Delays and cancelations.
Now, our partners at the Tampa's Bay Times have compiled the numbers we've been reporting on.
Over the last year, parts and system failures aboard Allegiant planes have forced the airline to make dozens of unexpected landings.
Six indents involved cockpit instruments. Cabin pressure was cited nine times.
There were 39 engine issues and 26 tail compartment problems.
So, is all of this enough to influence passengers’ decisions when it comes to flying the low-cost carrier?
Ironically, the Times report comes the same day the airline was celebrating its 10-year anniversary at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. By far the airport's largest carrier.
The blistering maintenance report found jets were forced to make at least 77 unexpected landings last year for serious mechanical issues.
42 out of 86 of its aging air-fleet suffered some form of failure mid-flight.
There were unexpected landings two to four times more often that of other major airlines.
We asked passengers for their take on the numbers.
“Wife, kids. Precious cargo. Don't want to fall out of the sky,” said passenger Jonathan McRoy.
“We try not to let it bother us,” added passenger Debbie Goody.
Allegiant, which had blamed past media attention to scrutiny brought-on by stalled negotiations with its pilots union, says improvements are already well underway.
That’s in large part to Allegiant’s $1.2 billion commitment to purchasing newer planes. The airline has already purchased 20 newer Airbus 320’s to replace part of its aging MD-80 fleet.
“Over the last 12 months, incidents, which are defined as divergent or a return back, are down 60% relative to the same 12-month period the year prior,” said Jude Bricker, Allegiant’s Chief Operating Officer.
Perhaps another reason for so many emergency landings, said 10News Aviation Expert Mark Weinkrantz, is that Allegiant does not have mechanics at each of the airports it services.
So, unlike bigger carriers, Allegiant airplanes might have to divert or turn around to get things fixed.
“I believe Allegiant is safe,” said Weinkrantz. “Are they the most reliable airline? I'm not convinced that they are based on the things we are seeing.”
So, will passengers' decisions whether to fly Allegiant be influenced by the compiled data?
Consider that even with all those reports during the past two years the airline booked record profits. Passengers clearly putting a premium on convenience and price.
“I think they're working on it,” said passenger Kevin Jerndt. “For us it's a direct flight from where we're coming from so, that's a big plus for us right there.”
Bricker said newer Airbus 320 aircraft are already beginning to service St. Pete-Clearwater International, with the intention of all flights switching over to newer planes by the end of 2017.
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