Thursday, July 19, 2018
Business

Allegiant Air flight aborts takeoff at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

A runway at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport was closed for an hour Saturday morning after an Allegiant Air flight aborted takeoff because of a mechanical problem that left behind debris from the aircraft.

The pilot of Flight 890 bound for Fort Wayne, Ind., initially reported to the tower that he thought he had blown a tire during takeoff shortly after 8 a.m., according to a recording of tower communications reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times. But rescue personnel called out to inspect the aircraft said the plane's tires were fine.

Allegiant Air confirmed the aborted takeoff and said the debris may have been related to an "internal failure" of one of the plane's engines.

TIMES INVESTIGATION: Thousands of people flew Allegiant thinking their planes wouldn't fail in the air. They were wrong.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 "experienced a maintenance issue during pre-takeoff roll," Allegiant said in a statement emailed to the Times. "The pilot aborted the takeoff and the aircraft returned to the gate where passengers deplaned. ... Our maintenance team is inspecting the aircraft to determine the cause."

The flight was delayed about four hours before passengers were able to depart, apparently on a different aircraft. Passengers were given a meal voucher and provided a $100 voucher for future travel on the airline.

Yvette Aehle, a spokeswoman for the airport, said it was unclear what kind of debris was left on the runway. But she said an hour's runway closure does not necessarily indicate a lot of debris on a runway that is over a mile long.

"It takes a long time to inspect it," she said.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which is responsible for 95 percent of passenger traffic at the Pinellas County airport, has been moving aggressively to replace and retire its fleet of aging MD-80 series aircraft. While the airline says the MD-80s are absolutely safe with proper maintenance, it has acknowledged they are prone to more mechanical difficulties that cause schedule delays.

The airline is in the process of buying 12 new Airbus aircraft in a deal that could be worth close to $1 billion as it addresses the reliability of its fleet of about 85 aircraft. Allegiant had previously always bought used aircraft at bargain prices, a key part of the low-cost airline business model.

But the carrier has suffered a series of public relations bruises in the past two years related to emergency landings and questions about its maintenance practices.

A Times analysis published in November found that Allegiant's planes were four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines in 2015.

Allegiant did not dispute the findings, though the airline said it had made strong improvements to address the reliability of its fleet.

Among the steps it took was replacing its management at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport after the airline's CEO, Maurice Gallagher Jr., said the company suffered a "bad summer" of 2015 with emergency landings and operational issues there.

Contact William R. Levesque at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.

Comments
St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

St. Pete residents storm City Council with allegations against Kevin King

ST. PETERSBURG — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, seven residents called for the resignation of Mayor Rick Kriseman and Kevin King — one of his closest confidants — over allegations that King "preys" on homeless black men.Jesse Nevel, the vice pre...
Updated: 2 hours ago
OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

OSHA has open inspection into Clearwater company MagneGas

CLEARWATER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an open inspection into a safety-related incident involving Clearwater-based MagneGas Corp. A federal investigator opened the inquiry into the publicly-traded alternative fuel...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

Winn-Dixie remodeled in Tampa opens as sixth made-over store this year

TAMPA — Winn-Dixie unveiled another remodeled store, the sixth in the area, after promising to remodel much of its chain following its emergence from bankruptcy this year.The made-over store at 805 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. has a host of ne...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

Starbucks to open its first U.S. sign language store

WASHINGTON — Starbucks has more than 8,000 stores nationwide. One of them will soon be run entirely in American Sign Language.Starbucks’ first signing store in the United States will hire 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing and hearing partners with the r...
Updated: 11 hours ago
State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

State Rep. Janet Cruz calls to cut off state ties with SunPass contractor, waive toll fees

TAMPA - State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, says she’s fed up with Florida’s problems with the SunPass tolling system that have persisted since early June.She’s asking the state to address what she referred to as the "gigantic racket" with the following ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Petersburg beef company recalls more than 6,000 pounds of meat

St. Petersburg beef company recalls more than 6,000 pounds of meat

ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg wholesale meat retailer is recalling more than 6,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef because of possible E. coli contamination, the USDA said Thursday.Five products produced by the St. Petersburg-based Ottomanelli Wh...
Updated: 12 hours ago
This week in savings: Best Tampa Bay grocery deals for July 18 - 25

This week in savings: Best Tampa Bay grocery deals for July 18 - 25

It’s a regular occurrence for me: Once a week, I’ll take out all the ads that have been mailed to my house and spread them across my tiny glass table.I grab my scissors for any coupons. Pull up any apps for stores whose ads I didn’t get and laugh at ...
Published: 07/19/18
We asked readers for tips on how to cut down on plastics. Here are 24 ideas they gave us.

We asked readers for tips on how to cut down on plastics. Here are 24 ideas they gave us.

Many of you are passionate about how to cut down on disposable plastics. You lit up our inbox with suggestions that ranged from the everyday — use cloth shopping bags — to the cosmic — get SpaceX founder Elon Musk to build a space ship capable of dep...
Published: 07/19/18
Brink: Sure, forgo straws and shopping bags, but innovation is key to tackling plastic waste

Brink: Sure, forgo straws and shopping bags, but innovation is key to tackling plastic waste

Plastic is found in everything from heart stents to fishing nets to athletic clothing. It extends the shelf life of food and improves the fuel efficiency of planes. Undoubtedly, the wonder product has made our lives easier. Unfortunately, the systems...
Published: 07/19/18
The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

There could soon be a new owner for one of the U.S.’s most iconic Hollywood homes.The house that’s featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch is now up for sale.Its asking price? A cool $1.885 million, the Los Angeles Times reports...
Published: 07/19/18