Just a day after being sued by the Las Vegas-based airline over an illegal strike, Teamsters Local 1224, which represents Allegiant's pilots and currently in negotiations with the airline for a new contract, has published a letter to passengers warning them about "persistent mechanical problems."
The letter praises Allegiant and its passengers for creating the most profitable airline in the industry while acknowledging the company's very poor record of flight delays and cancellations. The letter goes on to disparage the corporate leadership as having a greedy disregard for safety.
The Union doesn't mention any specific safety issues beyond "the company's unwillingness to invest in its operation or its workforce, as attested by the numerous FAA safety investigations, aircraft groundings, and training program closures." The letter continues with the theme that ultra-rich CEOs refuse to reinvest dividends to increase wages for the company's workforce.
The Union attempts to argue that the company's financial success hasn't translated into increased wages and benefits for employees and that somehow equates to a dangerous safety hazard for passengers. The debate about corporate CEO pay is well argued in many industries, but a major factor in pilot pay is boils down to passengers wanting cheap tickets.
According to a report on the company leadership's financial compensation in 2013, the senior officials appear to make a healthy wage. Even if the cash earnings were cut in half, the 537 pilots would only see a minor increase in salary and would be in jeopardy of losing their corporate leadership to another company willing to provide higher compensations – the same heads they praise for creating the most profitable airline in the industry.
The union has based its charges, a spokesperson said, on an investigation carried out by The Aviation Mechanics Coalition, about "air returns and diversions related to maintenance-related issues" at Allegiant during September and October 2014.
Allegiant COO Steve Harfst, respond to the charge from the pilots' union in a statement:
The safety of our passengers and crew is, above all, our number one priority. Allegiant has one of the best safety records among passenger airlines in the world, and complies with all FAA regulations. As we have said throughout this entire process, Allegiant and its leadership are committed to negotiating a contract with our pilots that is in the best interest of our pilots, as well as our other work groups and the health of our business.
However, instead of addressing their issues at the bargaining table, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has unfortunately chosen to engage in scare tactics, including manipulating facts in an attempt to manipulate our customers. These actions are irresponsible and unfair to our customers.
In January, pilots voted almost unanimously to strike after the union failed to reach an agreement with the airline after nearly two and a half years of negotiations. The National Mediation Board denied the union's request for arbitration yet continued to threaten strike even after the union "acknowledged that it has no legal right to strike based on the major dispute process," Allegiant Air said in the complaint.
While safety concerns might be justified, the coincidental timing of the open letter from the pilots' union casts a serious shadow of doubt of the legitimacy of the claims.