Pilots At Allegiant Raise Alarming Concerns

It’s normal for there to be contention between airline pilots and management. I don’t remember the last time pilots actually got a contract they were happy with for more than a brief period of time. Allegiant is in a situation where their pilots are trying to negotiate for a better contract, so sometimes it’s tough to figure out the difference between a legitimate concern and a bargaining tactic.

A satisfaction survey was just conducted of Allegiant Air pilots. The survey polled over 500 pilots, ranging from new hires to veteran pilots. While I wouldn’t take everything here at face value, on the surface some of these results seem shocking. Per ABC15 Arizona:

“Almost half of the pilots said they will not allow their own families to fly on the aircraft. That is a stunning repudiation of the operations at Allegiant. I have never heard that before at a carrier. And that is not sour grapes. That is not to make publicity. That is a real fear that these pilots have. And the reason is because they’re on the front lines and observe day in and day out the way Allegiant skimps on maintenance, pushes their aircraft.”

When nearly half of pilots say they won’t let their own families fly on Allegiant’s planes, that’s saying something.

This survey was released days after an Allegiant plane had an engine failure during a go around in Phoenix (engine failures happen, but they’re extremely rare during a go around):

“They had what was ostensibly a new airplane, an Airbus, have a catastrophic engine failure in the process of a go-around in Phoenix,” Wells says. “Extraordinarily rare event. Something that as a professional crew member you hope you never come across in the entirety of your career.”

The plane landed safely a short time later, but Wells says it’s part of a culture of cutting corners on maintenance that makes pilots afraid.

Let’s look at a few of the survey results.

Of the 500+ pilots surveyed, two thought morale at the airline is high:

Allegiant-Pilot-Survey

A vast majority of pilots think the current scheduling system leads to fatigue:

Allegiant-Pilot-Survey-1

And very few pilots are satisfied with working at Allegiant Air:

Allegiant-Pilot-Survey-2

Still, most shocking is that nearly half of pilots won’t fly their family on Allegiant, which has to be the most bizarre claim.

For anyone curious about Allegiant Air payscales, airlinepilotcentral.com has that information. Yes, Allegiant pilots are paid considerably less than those at legacy airlines, but they’re also paid considerably more than those at regional airlines.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of their contract negotiations. While I’m not surprised by the low morale and that the pilots feel they’re not compensated enough, their safety concerns about the airline are most alarming.

While there’s a lot of unhappiness among staff at many airlines, these must be the worst survey results I’ve ever seen from a US carrier.

What do you make of this survey — is it just a bargaining technique, reflective of the state of Allegiant, or a bit of both?

Comments

  1. If the pilots wont let their families fly because they think its unsafe then why on earth are they themselves still flying the airplanes.

  2. For the third time, an Allegiant plane that flies from/to my local airport and a Florida city, has had to do an emergency landing due to mechanical issues. Whether it be smoke, landing gear, etc.

    I’ve warned people numerous times not to fly the airline because of the problem “value” ensues with it.

  3. I think everyone can agree Allegiant runs a crap operation and skimps on maintenance and anything they can. However, I highly doubt that 50% of pilots wouldn’t put their families on the planes yet they still get on them everyday.

  4. The pilots tend to be colluding a-holes. I consulted for a…”in-flight wifi company”…and a certain airline’s pilots would be on their “private board” and commiserate and would chip-in for an unlimited wifi pass and, well, you can guess the rest.

    The estimate of loss in a year was ~ $300K in potential lost revenue….at least for the “low hanging fruit” which could easily be proven. The company chose to ignore it b/c … well, insert your own opinion here. It disgusted me to say the least.

    So, when you buy wifi and wonder why the f* it’s so slow…you CAN blame the pilots, b/c while it’s on auto-pilot, they are surfing and texting and you name it.

  5. I was watching an Allegiant flight land a couple of months ago with our company’s pilot. He commented how Allegiant is “a bunch of cowboys” and that “they’re going to get somebody killed someday”. He claimed to have seen them shoot a flame down the runway on approach, pull up to the gate, unload, load back up, and take-off with no inspection of the engine by the pilots. Amazing that two months later nearly the exact same thing happens in Mesa.

  6. I don’t know why people can’t imagine a pilot risking his own safety to provide for his family – the risk assessment says it’s worth it for him. People all over the world do it all the time. This is what immigrant workers are doing – heck, half the Middle East seems to operate on this premise.

    I’ve never flown Allegiant, but this certainly makes it unlikely to ever happen.

  7. It’s worth noting that Thursday is the 20th anniversary of ValuJet Flight 592. The relevance of this is that the people who ran ValuJet now run Allegiant. You’d think they’d have learned about the importance of maintenance from that experience. They haven’t.

    Stop nagging about the pilots, folks. Allegiant fired one pilot *for evacuating a smoke-filled cabin*. They fired him *over the telephone*, and during the incident itself a mysterious voice on the ATC radio channel tried to stop the pilot from evacuating.

    This past summer the airline’s chief pilot (the man who fired the other pilot over the phone) just last summer had to perform an emergency landing on an airport that had been closed for an airshow. The Thunderbirds had to be moved to accommodate the flight. The reason for the incident? Not loading enough fuel, following Allegiant’s custom fuel calculation algorithm (also the subject of pilot complaints).

    I’m all for regionals and low-cost startups in this business, and examples of success stories abound. Allegiant is not one of them.

  8. Pilots tend to follow the book when it’s convenient. Management skimping on maintenance? Probably, but it’s likely within safe boundaries. I don’t know if Allegiant is on the IOSA registry, but there are all forms of audits to make sure that airlines are taking necessary measures especially in the areas of maintenance to meet minimum standards. These pilots are making it sound like Allegiant management is completely reckless. It’s easy to comment on how a company is run and blame management when you don’t understand the numbers, the P&L and the cost of capital. And this is coming from someone who is a pilot for a legacy carrier.

  9. The FAA inspects all airlines every 5 years for safety but has moved Allegiant’s inspection up by 2 years because it is so concerned with Allegiant’s safety record. That scares the heck out of me!

  10. Yep, love all the knee-jerk “blame the pilots” comments.

    Same people likely bashed Snowden the whistle-blower when he exposed “management”, a/k/a your government, for spying on it’s own citizens.

    Back in the 60s/70s during all the airline hijacking pilots were the ones pushing for hardened/protective cockpit doors…management number crunches refused…911 proved pilots correct many decades later.

    Go ahead, keep up your uninformed pilot bashing while praising the idiot management “pilots” for running low on fuel…declaring a self-inflicted emergency…interrupting a restricted area…proving their incompetence.

    Value Jet execs are at it again!

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