LAS VEGAS (AP) — Allegiant Air officials said Friday that delays and cancelations could continue for several days as more than half of the airline's MD-80s remain grounded for overhauls of emergency slides like the ones deployed in an evacuation this week.
The inflatable chutes worked properly Monday when smoke was reported in the cabin of an Allegiant MD-80 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, company officials said. An incident review, however, found that fleetwide maintenance hadn't complied with the slide manufacturer's recommendations.
Taking the company's MD-80 aircraft out of service for inspections led to delays on at least 20 of Allegiant's 121 scheduled Friday flights, spokesman Brian Davis told reporters. Sixteen flights were rescheduled for Saturday and two Friday flights between Oakland, Calif., and Reno were canceled outright.
Allegiant returned 18 aircraft to service, leaving most of its 52 MD-80s grounded, the company said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Davis said the airline expected that passengers delayed Friday would reach their destinations by Saturday, a normally slow travel day. But travel on traditionally busy Sunday and Monday flights would be "operationally challenging."
Allegiant expected to increase the number of MD-80 aircraft in service to 22 on Saturday, but that's still less than half its fleet. It also had six Boeing 757s and two Airbus A320s aircraft in the air, and chartered seven other aircraft to fill some scheduled routes.
Disruptions could continue through the end of the month, Davis said.
Davis didn't provide a tally of how many passengers were affected but said most would be compensated with discounts on future travel. Allegiant would also make hotel arrangements for travelers stranded overnight, he said.
"We want our customers to know we take disruption of their travel plans very seriously," said Davis, spokesman for the airline and its parent company, Allegiant Travel Co. But he said safety of passengers and crew members was the company's top priority.
No injuries were reported among the 144 passengers and six crew members on the MD-80 that was evacuated Monday before takeoff for Peoria, Ill.
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