LAS VEGAS — More than one in 10 weekend Allegiant Air passengers were affected by schedule shuffling after the airline grounded its MD-80 fleet for maintenance of emergency exit slides, a company official said Monday.
After canceling 12 flights on six routes Monday and rescheduling those customers to fly Tuesday, company spokesman Brian Davis said administrators believed the Las Vegas-based airline would eliminate its backlog of flights for at least several days.
"We expect to be able to operate a regular schedule Tuesday," Davis told reporters on a company conference call.
He said passengers on the low-fare leisure and vacation airline could encounter delays during peak flying times Thursday, Friday and through the weekend – until the full fleet of 52 MD-80 aircraft returned to service.
Thirty-two of Allegiant's 52 MD-80 were expected to be back in service at the end of the day Monday, Davis said, plus nine Airbus A-319 and Boeing 757 aircraft. An unspecified number of other flights were handled by another carrier that Davis said he couldn't name.
Allegiant began overhauling exit slides on its 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.
Davis said 5,687 of the airline's 56,618 weekend customers were affected by cancellations and rescheduling.
Of 181 flights scheduled Sunday, 24 flights on 12 routes were canceled and rescheduled Monday.
On Monday, just 12 of 146 flights were canceled and pushed to Tuesday.
Flights were canceled between McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Bentonville, Ark.; Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Ill.; Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Shreveport Regional Airport in Louisiana.
Also canceled were flights between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona and Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Kansas, and between St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Florida and Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn.
Allegiant officials said affected passengers would get vouchers for future Allegiant travel, and hotel rooms if they were stranded overnight.
Company share prices closed down 68 cents Monday, at $97.23.