Could Allegiant Air Be Grounded a la ValuJet?

Could Allegiant Air Be Grounded a la ValuJet?

Could recent troubles at Allegiant Air somehow be tied to the leadership history of the airline’s CEO, Maurice Gallagher, a founder of ValuJet who was in a leadership role there when that airline was grounded by the FAA in 1996? Hopefully, for the sake of its employees and customers, there will be changes which might include adjustments in its leadership ranks.

Although the FAA has yet to announce plans to ground Allegiant, meetings were planned in June between the FAA and Allegiant Air management to discuss $266,375  in civil penalties levied against the airline for failing to adhere to drug testing regulations for safety sensitive employees.

Success Story Marred by Delays, Cancellations and Emergency Landings

Allegiant Air has been in the news continuously during the last couple of months for a long running series of emergency landings and maintenance issues that have severely impacted its operations. Passengers and crew have been subjected to lengthy delays and cancellations. In most cases, Allegiant Air does not provide passage on other carriers and asks customers to wait until other seats on Allegiant are available.

Allegiant Air’s recent string of emergency landings and diversions is raising red flags regarding the safety of its customers and employees. Many are wondering if enough oversight is in place is to ensure that the Allegiant operation is running safely as management pushes the fleet to its limits during peak summer months.

“I love this company and it upsets me so much to think that our careers and possibly our safety are being played with due to greed” — Allegiant Air Employee

Allegiant’s management has also been called out by some of the airports around the country which it has begun service to only to pull out unexpectedly. There’s even a website dedicated to this and other practices at the airlines, Will Allegiant Be There.

Pilots have issued warnings

The pilots allege that the airline is taking maintenance shortcuts and putting profits ahead of safety. The airline dismisses the claims as part of an ongoing labor dispute between Allegiant Air and its pilots union.

“So while we can appreciate that there have been some incidents that have been quite public” at St. Pete-Clearwater, “we stand by the fact that our flights are safe and that the safety of our passengers and crews are our No. 1 priority,” said Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

While other low-cost carriers such as Jetblue and Virgin America have started with brand new, state-of-the-art aircraft; Allegiant Air has become successful using a strategy that includes flying much older aircraft such as the MD-80 and 757s which require increased upkeep. Updates to their fleet are underway but moving slowly.

ValuJet reemerged as AirTran following Gallagher's departure and became highly successful and eventually purchased by Southwest Airlines

ValuJet reemerged as AirTran following Gallagher’s departure and became highly successful and eventually purchased by Southwest Airlines

Allegiant CEO was a founder of ValuJet

Maurice Gallagher is the CEO of Allegiant Travel which is the parent company of Allegiant Air. Mr. Gallagher was also a founder of ValuJet and CEO of that airline during its rapid expansion up until it was grounded by the FAA in 1996 following a tragic crash of a ValuJet DC-9 in the Florida Everglades. The FAA found that there were several serious deficiencies in the Valujet operation which contributed to the crash.

Maurice Gallagher gives a business management lecture

Maurice Gallagher gives a business management lecture. He and his wife gave a $10 million gift to UC Davis School of Management.

There are some who see a very disturbing pattern of operations at Allegiant Air which seem tied to the history of its leadership. Employees and crew are hoping Allegiant Air will make the changes necessary to prevent history from repeating itself.



Gailen David is co-host of the nationally syndicated travel talk show, "The Jet Set" with over 1.8M weekly viewers in over 200 television markets in 12 countries. A former flight attendant, he leads a global discussion about "Jetiquette", the rules or code of civilized travel. Gailen is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN and USA Today on topics related to the airline travel experience and of course, Jetiquette. Visit Gailen's website

More in Allegiant

7/3 [Clearwater]: Possible Spoiler Malfunction

Jul 4, 2015

7/1 [Clearwater]: Plane returns to St. Pete after Issue

Jul 1, 2015

6/25 [Sanford]: Wasp causes diversion

Jun 25, 2015

6/17 [Clearwater]: Allegiant plane returns to PIE due to pressurization problems

Jun 17, 2015

Savvy Stews, TAKE OFF! with The Savvy Stews, The JetSet, Jetiquette, Together We Fly and Travel Like We Do are all registered trademarks of En Pointe Productions, LLC.

Our television segments & shows and the content on this website may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

© 2011-2019 En Pointe Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.