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Union alleges Allegiant Air pilots leaving at accelerated rates

The union that represents the 400 pilots of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air say pilots are leaving the airline at accelerated rates to work for companies that are offering higher pay and benefits.

The Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224, based in Wilmington, Ohio, is surveying pilots that have left the airline to confirm their belief that they’re leaving to work for companies with better and safer operations, working conditions and better schedules.

Union officials say pilots already flying full schedules are forced to cover additional flights, keeping them away from home for weeks or months at a time.

An Allegiant spokeswoman said the airline’s pilot attrition rate is less than airlines of comparable size.

“Allegiant prides itself on being a stable, growing company with an out-and-back model, offering commercial pilots a unique opportunity to go home every night,” said Jessica Wheeler, a company spokeswoman.

“Due to our continued growth, we also offer pilots one of the fastest promotion rates of major carriers in the U.S. Voluntary pilot attrition at Allegiant has stayed fairly consistent since 2012, with a yearly rate below the industry average.”

Allegiant has a prickly relationship with unions, which the company’s management views as a drain on financial resources.

Pilots voted for Teamsters representation in August 2012 and union officials said after the vote benefits were reduced to below previously negotiated levels, triggering a union lawsuit.

Union representative Alan Meyers said Allegiant has acknowledged staffing issues in some of the company’s earnings calls.

“We know from the company’s first- quarter 2014 earnings call with investors on April 23 that Allegiant spent $8 million on sub-service flying due to staffing issues during the first quarter and an estimated $4 million during the second quarter of 2014,” Meyers said.

“The third quarter doesn’t end until next week, and we won’t have any official insight into how much sub-service they paid for until the company reports third-quarter numbers in October or November,” he said.

Meyers said union pilots have said they have seen third-party contractors flying Allegiant planes in several locations.

“Addressing several key issues would go a long way towards stemming the company’s losses,” Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel Wells, speaking on behalf of Allegiant pilots, said in a statement.

“The Teamsters have presented the company with a comprehensive proposal to which they have refused to reply. The proposal addresses key and legitimate concerns held by the Allegiant Air pilots.”

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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