Few delays as Allegiant keeps checking exit slides
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Allegiant Air reported no cancellations and only three delays among its 187 flights Thursday while mechanics made progress overhauling emergency exit slides on the airline's fleet of MD-80 aircraft.
Meanwhile, airline executives faced pickets outside the Las Vegas offices of parent company Allegiant Travel Co. Delegates to the Transport Workers Union of America's convention were upset that talks to ink a contract have stretched on for more than two years after flight attendants joined the union.
Just one scheduled flight, between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona and Bismarck Airport in North Dakota, was delayed more than a couple of hours Thursday because of the slide maintenance, company spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said. At least 37 of Allegiant's fleet of 52 MD-80s were back in service.
About 10 percent of Allegiant passengers endured cancellations last weekend, after the airline grounded MD-80s until each exit chute was overhauled to meet manufacturer's recommendations.
The makeup maintenance stemmed from a 2007 recommendation that company officials acknowledged had not been followed. The mistake was discovered after a smoke alarm aboard an aircraft Sept. 16 led to the emergency evacuation of 144 passengers and six crew members from an Allegiant flight in Las Vegas. No one was hurt.
Transport Workers Union Vice President Thom McDaniel said the informational picketing wasn't a work stoppage, just a call for a contract. The union's convention was being held this week at The Mirage resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Officials with publicly traded Allegiant Travel have maintained they're trying to balance union and business interests.
"We love and respect our flight attendants and appreciate their hard work every day," Wheeler said in a statement. "But we believe our time is better spent attacking the issues at the negotiation table rather than attacking one another."
Shares of Allegiant Travel Co. rose $1.89, or 1.9 percent, to $103.19 Thursday.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)