Allegiant Air Pilots Once Again Raise Concerns With Airline’s Safety Practices

Pilots of Nevada-based budget carrier Allegiant Air are once again expressing their concerns that the airline’s bare minimum approach to maintenance and operations comes at the cost of passenger safety, this time in a letter to the company’s board of directors.

CBS News reports that (warning: link has video that autoplays) the union representing Allegiant pilots sent a letter [PDF] to the company’s board asking it to intervene in what the pilots says are cost cutting measures that put customers at risk when traveling with the airline.

“Allegiant is continuing to cut corners on industry-standard practices, including ignoring FAA recommendations on running important safety programs, using scheduling systems that create pilot fatigue and frustration and spending shareholder dollars on unnecessary legal fees and hours in court,” the letter states.

To illustrate the issues, the union points out that the airline has encountered 38 potentially dangerous incidents including failing engines, pressurization problems, and smoke in the cockpit between January and March of this year.

CBS News reports that passengers of the airline were part of two rather scary experiences just this month.

In one case, a flight had to make an emergency landing at an airport near Tampa. After reports of smoke were made in the cabin, passengers had to evacuate the aircraft using emergency exit slides. A second disturbance occurred in Idaho when passengers stood on the wing of the plane after seeing smoke.

“Allegiant Air is on a dangerous path that has shareholders, pilots and customers concerned,” the letter states. “We hope you will use your leadership to change the direction the company is heading.”

For its part, the airline insists its safety record is among the best in the industry, telling CBS News that the union’s claims are “an effort to manipulate the public” following stalled contract negotiations.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that when a carrier suffers from internal issues – such as labor unrest – the agency will increase oversight. However, the FAA did not address whether or not it found safety issues with regard to Allegiant.

Pilots accuse Allegiant Air of cutting safety along with costs [CBS News]