Saturday, August 27, 2016

Less Allegiant issues since pilots got contract deal

Clearwater, FL -- It's been two months now since Allegiant Airlines reached a contract agreement with its pilots following a bitter labor dispute.

And since then, the airline hasn't been in the news nearly as often.

So have things gotten better at Allegiant, or is it possible there was a motive behind all that negative publicity in recent months?

“Yeah, I mean they were getting some bad press. I agree,” said Paul Grande, about to board a flight to Syracuse.

Grande flies Allegiant regularly enough that he remembers how earlier this year it was seemingly one issue after another. 

“Every week, pretty much...yeah,” he said.

But in the two months since Allegiant's Pilots’ Union got its new contract including a hefty salary increase, Grande says it’s been a noticeable change.

“Oh, it's quieted down since then, hasn't it?” he laughed, “Yeah. That's ironic.”

The FAA doesn't publish rankings when it comes to airline maintenance issues; which made it hard to compare Allegiant with other carriers.

But if you were to go back to June 22nd this year, when the two sides came to an agreement, and search Google News headlines for Allegiant Emergencies or landings, you’d find that before the deal there was page after page of issues brought to the public's attention.

Search the time period since the deal, and you’ll find hardly anything.

“Well, that worked along for their agenda, and in the end they got what they needed,” said 10News Aviation Expert Mark Weinkrantz.

Weinkrantz says the pilots appear to have successfully used the incidents as leverage. There are likely fewer incidents, now, he says, because pilots, who feel more valued after reaching their deal, are more likely to make sure the small stuff is taken care of before it becomes a bigger problem.

“I think when you have happy employees, things that might've been a source of contention before seem to get a little bit more suppressed,” said Weinkrantz.

“I’m really not allowed to say too much,” said a pilot walking through St. Pete / Clearwater Airport Friday. He would say he’s glad they reached a deal. But when we asked about the coincidental quiet lately, he walked away saying only, “Just is what it is, I guess.”

During the labor dispute, Allegiant repeatedly boasted a solid maintenance record. It’s planes remained packed.

Passengers then, and now, apparently motivated by price - not just publicity. 

“It was just a cheaper round-trip deal,” said Nicole Butler, happy to be flying out Friday.

“I don't pay no attention to it,” agreed Allegiant passenger Jake Spivey. “You know -- like I said -- it's a cheap flight for me. I don't care.”

We reached out to both the pilot's union and Allegiant for this story, but late Friday there had been no comment from either of them.

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