Springfield, MO. Concerns are bring raised over the safety of a popular discount airline serving the Ozarks. Allegiant Air and its use of older model aircraft were the subject of a popular television news magazine.
On Monday, it was business as usual for Allegiant Air, as it's morning flight from Las Vegas unloaded passengers at Springfield-Branson National Airport.
"I thought it was fine. Everything was on time. I thought the crew was excellent," said Nancy Phillips of Mount Vernon.
Like a lot of low-cost airlines, Allegiant uses older second-hand jets, such as the MD-80 in charge of this morning's Las Vegas run. This particular aircraft has been flying since 1989. It was this model that was the focus of a CBS 60 Minutes investigation which said the mechanical track record is very concerning. Most of the McDonnell Douglas birds were built some 30 years ago.
Evelyn Mayorga, a passenger from California, stated, "Well, I had not heard a lot about it, so this is news to me. It has me a little worried."
"The aeronautical industry is one of the safest, and they set the standards for all of us," said Phillips. "When they have safety issues, so when they have safety issues we have to be concerned about it because they set the standards.
John Nelson of Dunnegan, said, "The flights are fine, the planes are fine. No problem at all."
Some Allegiant passengers we talked to say they have encountered several delays related to mechanical issues. However the airline points out it has not had a single crash, and nobody has been injured or killed.
Kent Boyd, spokesperson for Springfield-Branson National Airport, said, "Keep in mind that Allegiant has flown from this airport for more than a decade. And in that time it has flown literally hundreds of thousands of people from the area."
"Yeah, I am not afraid to take Allegiant. I think they are taking care of the problem. I think it will be fine. As I said, they set the standard, so they have to take care of the problem," said Phillips.
Allegiant says it began making necessary changes after a federal investigation in 2015. The company started taking delivery of brand new planes, the Airbus A319-320. The MD-80s' days are numbered, the airline says.
"I am not worried about them. I will fly whatever they got," Nelson said.
"The airline is a business that does business here at the airport. It is our job as the landlord to make sure the airport is a safe place to operate. We and everyone else depend on the FAA, the federal government, and the airlines to maintain a safe airline environment," Boyd stated.
Already, at least two-thirds of the flights into SGF use the new Airbus model. The planes will be in charge of all routes by the end of the year, coinciding with the removal of the remaining MD-80s from service.
"I hope I get one of those," Mayorga exclaimed.
Allegiant told KY3 News it believes the 60 Minutes report is full of inaccuracies. For comparison, it points out both Delta and American Airlines continue flying MD80s.