Allegiant Air cancels 12 flights; none at McGhee Tyson
From Staff and Wire Reports
Allegiant Air canceled 12 flights around the country on Monday after discovering a compliance issue regarding emergency exit slides in its MD-80 fleet, but none of the cancellations involved McGhee Tyson Airport flights — so far.
“As of right now, we are monitoring it,” said Becky Huckaby, director of public relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. “They are cautioning us to expect future delays.”
Allegiant Air officials said about 10 percent of the airline’s weekend passengers were affected by the grounding of the MD-80 fleet.
Company spokesman Brian Davis said 12 flights were canceled Monday in and out of Las Vegas, the Tampa, Fla., area and Phoenix, and passengers were rescheduled to fly today.
Davis says the airline expects to have 32 of its 52 MD-80 aircraft back in service before today, plus nine other Airbus and Boeing aircraft and several flights handled by another carrier. He said that should let Allegiant catch up on its schedule — at least until the busy Thursday and Friday rush.
The affected flights closest to McGhee Tyson were scheduled between Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Florida.
The Las Vegas-based, low-fare airline said in a statement that it had contacted passengers affected by the cancellations. The passengers with tickets on the delayed flights will be compensated with vouchers for future travel and hotel rooms if they were stranded overnight.
Allegiant began overhauling slides on its 52 MD-80 aircraft last week, following the emergency evacuation of a Sept. 16 Allegiant flight in Las Vegas. The inflatable chutes worked properly, and no one among the 144 passengers and six crew members was hurt.
The company ordered a fleetwide grounding after administrators learned that maintenance hadn’t complied with a manufacturer’s recommendation, updated in 2007, to overhaul slide assemblies every year. Allegiant had been maintaining the MD-80 slides on an original three-year maintenance interval.
Allegiant offers flights between McGhee Tyson and Florida airports at Orlando/Sanford, Fort Meyers/Punta Gorda, Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale. A flight scheduled to depart McGhee Tyson for St. Pete/Clearwater at 5:25 p.m. Monday was expected to actually depart at 5:48 p.m., according to the MKAA website.