Saturday, July 04, 2015

Problems continue for Allegiant as airline reports third emergency landing in a month at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE), Florida

Editor's note: If you were a passenger on Flight 977, we are interested in talking to you. Contact reporter William R. Levesque at (813) 625-0038 or at

An Allegiant Air flight made an emergency landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport Friday night, the third time in the last month Allegiant pilots have been forced to declare an emergency at the Pinellas County facility.

Flight 977 departed Ashville, N.C., bound for Punta Gorda but was forced to divert to St. Pete-Clearwater because of bad weather, the airline said.

Just a few minutes before landing, however, pilots declared an emergency because an "indicator light" went on that pointed to a possible "maintenance issue" on the aircraft, Allegiant said Saturday.

The plane landed safely at 7:53 p.m. The airline did not provide any additional information about what kind of problem the indicator light pointed to.

"Mechanics are currently investigating the issue," the airline said.

Allegiant officials said passengers were put on a replacement aircraft and departed St. Pete-Clearwater International, landing in Punta Gorda at 10:42 p.m., nearly four hours later than scheduled. There were 146 passengers and six crew members on the plane, the airline said.

An Allegiant flight made an emergency airport at St. Pete-Clearwater on June 17 for what the airline called a "pressurization" issue with the aircraft.

Earlier in June, another Allegiant flight made an emergency landing after taking off from the St. Pete-Clearwater airport. Smoke appeared in the plane's cabin about eight minutes after takeoff, and passengers disembarked on emergency slides after landing.

Allegiant pilots, who have been involved in a labor dispute with the airline, have questioned whether the Las Vegas-based carrier compromises safety for profits. A union report in April noted more than 60 mostly minor mechanic issues on Allegiant aircraft from September to March, including nine at St. Pete-Clearwater.

The airline has said it has one of the best safety records in the industry and that complaints by the pilots are a tactic in labor negotiations.


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