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Allegiant Air under fire after ‘60 Minutes’ safety report

Photo: KSTU via CNN Wire

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The low-cost carrier Allegiant Air is under fire following a “60 Minutes” investigation that is raising significant safety concerns.

Investigators with the news program found that between Jan. 1, 2016 and October 2017, the Las Vegas airline experienced more than 100 serious mechanical incidents, including aborted takeoffs, rapid descents, flight control malfunctions and midair engine failures.

More than a year’s worth of Federal Aviation Administration reports for Allegiant and seven other airlines show that the carrier was on average nearly three and a half times more likely to have a midair breakdown than Delta, United, American, Spirit, or JetBlue.

Shares of parent company Allegiant Travel Co. are plunging 13 percent before the opening bell.

Allegiant responds

In response to a request for comment, Allegiant’s Vice President of Operations Eric Gust released a statement saying he’s “outraged and astounded by the irresponsible, grossly misleading story.”

“The story is outdated, bears no resemblance to the Allegiant I know, and shows a real and troubling misunderstanding of the FAA’s rigorous oversight of Allegiant.”

“If “60 Minutes” had been interested in current information, they would have reported that today, according to just-released Department of Transportation data, Allegiant is a leader in reliability, with the second-lowest cancellation rate among all US airlines.”

They further went on to suggest that the entire report was “instigated” by a disgruntled former employee who is currently involved in a lawsuit against the airline company.

Allegiant currently has flights from Memphis to destinations such as Austin, Sanford/Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Los Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Rep. Steve Cohen urged the Federal Aviation Administration to review Allegiant Air in a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Transportation Monday evening.

The letter reads, “If true this is deeply disturbing, and I urge you to request that the Federal Aviation Administration review these alarming allegations and take immediate action.”

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.