Allegiant Air Pilots Raise Safety Concerns

 - February 3, 2014, 12:50 PM

The union that represents Allegiant Air’s pilots–APA Teamsters Local 1224, currently in contract negotiations with the airline–is to present its longstanding concerns about safety issues directly to the carrier’s investors. The initiative, announced last week in a press statement, comes after months of what it sees as fruitless efforts to resolve the issues with the FAA and the airline’s management.

Last November, Teamsters attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the FAA to learn the results of the carrier’s recent Air Carrier Evaluation Process audit. The agency refused the request, saying only that the airline was still part of an ongoing FAA investigation.

The Teamsters also filed a lawsuit in November accusing the airline of violating the Railway Labor Act. The pilots say they have concerns about the airline’s operational safety and are being told little or nothing by Allegiant management when they raise questions. Last September the FAA grounded the airline’s entire MD-80 fleet in response to issues with the aircraft’s emergency slides. Last year the airline suffered at least three engine failures shortly after takeoff.

“Allegiant management has turned a deaf ear to serious operational concerns raised by the pilots,” said David Bourne, director of the airline division at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “We believe Allegiant’s financial backers have a right to know what is going on and be given a chance to weigh in on vital changes needed for Allegiant’s long-term success before it’s too late.”

A Teamsters spokesperson told AIN that the airline shut down its training department for two weeks in late October, preempting the FAA’s plans for the same action. “It had to do with training manuals for dispatchers and pilots that were out of date,” he said. The union official also said the company brought in a number of line pilots to assist with manual updates, but demanded they sign non-disclosure statements before the work began. The Teamsters also have complained of difficulties in making the airline’s scheduling software properly track pilot duty times to comply with new Part 117 duty and rest regulations.

An Allegiant spokesperson told AIN that the company is considering a response to the Teamsters news release but declined to say anything about the pilots’ concerns.