Allegiant Air under fire after '60 Minutes' safety report

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The low-cost carrier Allegiant Air is under fire following a "60 Minutes" investigation that raised 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.

Captain Eric Gust, vice president of operations at Allegiant, said in a prepared statement that "60 Minutes" aired a "false narrative about Allegiant and the FAA, which he said exercises "rigorous oversight" of the airline. Gust also said Allegiant complies with all FAA requirements and participates in numerous voluntary safety programs.

"To suggest that Allegiant would engage in the practice of asking team members to violate company and regulatory obligations is offensive and defamatory," he said.

Shares of parent company Allegiant Travel Co. slid 4.6 percent in early trading.

Allegiant operates flights to and from Toledo Express Airport. A spokesperson for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority released the following statement: "The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is aware of the CBS 60 Minutes story on Allegiant that aired Sunday, April 15, 2018. Allegiant has served the Toledo Region for over 12 years and has transported hundreds of thousands of passengers safely to and from Toledo Express Airport. We encourage customers who have concerns to contact Allegiant directly at 702.505.8888. For more information regarding the 60 Minutes story, please contact Allegiant’s corporate communications team at mediarelations@allegiantair.com or 702.800.2020," writes director of communications Holly Kemler.