On Sunday evening, CBS "60 minutes" aired a scathing report, which found that Allegiant Air's planes had three times as many mechanical problems with flights as six competing airlines between January 2017 and October 2017.
They detailed incidents like cabin pressure loss, unscheduled landings, aborted takeoffs and emergency descents.
More than a year's worth of FAA reports for Allegiant and seven other airlines show that the carrier was on average almost three and a half times more likely to have a midair breakdown than Delta, United, American, Spirit, or JetBlue.
Allegiant, a low-priced carrier based in Las Vegas, operates flights out of Lehigh Valley International Airport to several Florida destinations. "60 Minutes" is owned by CBS (CBS), and has a significantly larger audience of about 12 million viewers per week, or about 4% of the USA population. However, thanks in large part to the efforts of the airline's mechanics, pilots and dispatchers, Allegiant has become a leader in operational reliability, with the second fewest mechanical cancellations in the industry. According to AirFleets.net, a service that tracks aircraft owned by airlines, the average age of the MD-80s that Allegiant still operates is 28.2 years old.
This image shows the Allegiant Air plane that made an emergency landing at Rockford Airport. There wasn't an incoming or departing Allegiant flight at the time, but passengers who saw the report said, it shook them.
But Davis, who watched most of the "60 Minutes" investigative report, admits "It was very disturbing".
"To me it's safer to fly allegiant today than it ever has been before because of all this additional scrutiny that's taking place".
CBS isn't the first to raise questions about Allegiant's safety record.
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A Washington Post analysis at the time found that Allegiant had about nine times as many "serious incidents" from January 2015 through March 2016 as Delta Air Lines, the second-largest USA carrier, despite Delta having flown about three times as many comparable planes in the period.
He says they remained until airline deregulation which gave airlines the chance to leave and they did.
On Monday, Allegiant issued a statement by Eric Gust, vice president of operations, charging that the CBS story told a "false narrative" about Allegiant and the FAA.
"Allegiant's team members safely operate thousands of flights each week, which will transport more than 14 million passengers this year". The agency said it did a comprehensive review of Allegiant in 2016, finding no systemic safety or regulatory problems. Interestingly, none of the concerns allegedly expressed by Allegiant team members during the 60 Minutes episode were found to have been reported through any of these appropriate channels.
The carrier's oldest planes, McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, haven't been manufactured for 20 years and have become maintenance headaches.
"The traveling public deserves to know whether the FAA is conducting thorough safety oversight of Allegiant", Nelson wrote.
"Ogdensburg International Airport (OGS) is accomplishing great things for the local economy and safety in aviation is number one".