Skift Take

It would be cynical indeed if Allegiant's pilots were raising safety concerns about the airline as a mere bargaining chip. Which it seems they are, since they're the ones flying the planes.

Allegiant Air’s pilot’s union published a letter to passengers warning them about “persistent mechanical problems” at the Las Vegas-based airline and its “unwillingness to invest in its operation or its workforce, as attested by the numerous FAA safety investigations, aircraft groundings, and training program closures.”

Teamsters Local 1224, which represents Allegiant’s pilots and is in negotiations with the airline for a new contract, has even been advertising on Google, directing prospective passengers to the letter, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

“There is simply no reason why we — you or I — should accept flying an airline that is content with just barely meeting acceptable safety standards,” the letter states.

[UPDATE: The pilots union announced it plans to go on strike against the airline on April 2 and Allegiant has sued to block the strike.]

The pilots union states that it was writing the letter because Allegiant, which has notched 48 consecutive quarters of profitability, is loathe to invest in the airline’s infrastructure, fleet and workforce, including pilots and mechanics.

In fact, a spokesperson for the pilots union said Allegiant flies aircraft that barely pass inspections, there are inadequate training programs for mechanics and a lack of spare parts that forces mechanics to cannibalize other aircraft for parts.

The union bases its charges, the spokesperson said, on an investigation, carried out by The Aviation Mechanics Coalition, about “air returns and diversions related to maintenance-related issues” at Allegiant during September and October 2014. The coalition’s report is embedded below.

Allegiant COO Steve Harfst, issued the following statement about the pilot union’s charges:

“The safety of our passengers and crew is, above all, our number one priority. Allegiant has one of the best safety records among passenger airlines in the world, and complies with all FAA regulations. As we have said throughout this entire process, Allegiant and its leadership are committed to negotiating a contract with our pilots that is in the best interest of our pilots, as well as our other work groups and the health of our business.

“However, instead of addressing their issues at the bargaining table, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has unfortunately chosen to engage in scare tactics, including manipulating facts in an attempt to manipulate our customers. These actions are irresponsible and unfair to our customers.

“On March 23rd, the National Mediation Board (NMB), the agency of the federal government that oversees the collective bargaining process in our industry, directed both Allegiant and the IBT to return to the bargaining table on April 29-May 1 in Washington, D.C. We hope that the Teamsters will cease their heavy-handed bullying tactics and return to a constructive negotiation process, which is in the best interest of our pilots and our passengers.”

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Tags: allegiant air, labor, pilots

Photo credit: Airline passengers walk next to an Allegiant Air commercial flight near an air traffic control tower at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport in Ogden, Utah in this file photo taken March 11, 2013. Jim Urquhart / Reuters

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