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File- In this Thursday, May 9, 2013, file photo, two Allegiant Air jets taxi at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/David Becker,File)

Allegiant Airlines planes break down mid-flight 4 times more than any other airline


Allegiant Air planes break down mid-flight four times more often than any other major U.S. airline, according to a Tampa Bay Times investigation.

Last year alone, Allegiant planes had to make unexpected landings for serious mechanical failures 77 times -- 12.2 times per 10,000 flights. 

The reasons ranged from failing brakes to fires. In total, 42 of Allegiant's 86 planes broke down at least once in 2015. Yet the Federal Aviation Administration didn't do anything to punish Allegiant.

By the numbers

Allegiant's planes are 22 years old on average, 10 years older than other airlines. Most of the airlines' planes are McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, which only two other airlines use and are known to fail about twice as much as the planes American Airlines uses.

In 18 incidents last year, part of the plane that had been recently repaired failed again. 

We were always a safe airline. This gives credence to our claim.
Allegiant COO Jude Bricker on Sept. 30

The FAA launched a three-month review of Allegiant in April but found nothing severe enough to merit a fine. It required the airline to submit a plan to deal with the issues it found. 

That plan was accepted, and Allegiant was effectively off the hook, the Times reports.

Allegiant is probably going to have an accident. That airline should basically be grounded and re-evaluated for their certificate.
Richard Wyeroski, to the Times

Allegiant has long been one of the cheapest airlines available. But focusing on staying cheap comes at a cost, former FAA inspector Richard Wyeroski told the Times.

Allegiant, ironically, celebrated its ties to Tampa on Twitter.

So what's next? 

The airline also told the Times it was going to change its safety plans after the investigation was published. 

"And we're going to make sure we do those things. But if you stub your toe, step up and own it and move on," CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr. said in an October interview after the Times presented its findings.

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