* About half of fleet to get evacuation slide inspections
* Cancels 18 of 121 scheduled flights Friday
* More disruptions likely Sunday and Monday
* Shares fall about 5 percent
Sept 20 Allegiant Travel Co, a low-cost
carrier that provides service to leisure destinations, is
grounding as many as 30 of its planes, or roughly half of its
fleet, to inspect emergency exit slides to comply with safety
The company's shares fell about 5 percent on Friday, when it
canceled 18 of 121 scheduled flights, a move that affected
roughly 2,700 passengers.
Brian Davis, a spokesman, said 16 of the flights originally
planned for Friday would operate on Saturday, when the carrier
also expects to complete a full schedule of 33 flights.
Davis added that more disruptions were likely on Sunday and
Monday, which are busier days. "We do anticipate more
cancellations," he said during a conference call.
The Las Vegas-based discounter, which offers flights to
leisure destinations such as Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in
Florida and cities in Hawaii, said it had secured seven aircraft
from other carriers to help it provide flights as it makes the
inspections of its MD-80s.
To complete the needed checks, the slides must be taken off
planes and sent to a third party for overhaul. Davis also said
Allegiant was buying evacuation slides in a bid to return planes
to service as soon as possible.
The FAA directed the carrier to report the status of the
evacuation slides on its MD-80s while investigating an emergency
evacuation of an Allegiant flight in Las Vegas on Monday. As
part of the FAA review, Allegiant said it found that it was not
meeting updated manufacturer guidelines that called for older
slides to be overhauled every year, and so decided to pull
planes from service to make the checks. Allegiant said it had
been checking the MD-80 slides every three years.
"The FAA this week became aware that Allegiant Air may not
have inspected some emergency evacuation slides on its MD-80
fleet at required intervals," Ian Gregor, public affairs manager
with the FAA Pacific Division, said in a statement.
"We directed them to report on the slides' inspection
status," Gregor added in an email.
Allegiant said it expected the slide inspections to be
completed by the end of this month. The carrier added it was
offering vouchers, refunds and hotel and meal accommodations to
passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled because of
the slide inspections.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant operates 52 MD-80 aircraft, six
Boeing Co 757-200 aircraft, and three Airbus
A319 jets. The MD-80 was made by McDonnell Douglas, which Boeing
acquired in 1997.
Allegiant shares closed down $5.08 at $97.91 on the Nasdaq