At about the time Allegiant Air Chairman and CEO Maurice Gallagher was telling analysts about his company’s 40th consecutive profitable quarter on Wednesday, representatives of the Transport Workers Union of America were promoting a blistering new website criticizing Allegiant business tactics and policies.
The new WillAllegiantBeThere.org website is designed to turn up the heat on stalled contract negotiations between company management and flight attendants represented by the TWU Local 577.
“Why is a profitable company abandoning routes to so many cities and suddenly leaving communities without service?” TWU International Vice President Thom McDaniel asked in a release announcing the site. “Why does the company receive consistently negative reviews for passenger comfort, high passenger fees, poor on-time performance and canceled flights? Why is the company unable — or unwilling — to reach fair agreements with its own workforce?”
In Allegiant’s earnings conference call Wednesday, Gallagher said negotiations were ongoing when asked about the status of the mediated talks.
Flight attendants voted for TWU representation at the end of 2010 and talks for what would be the company’s first union contract began last year.
The new website puts a spotlight on Allegiant’s tactics — strategies that company management argues have been responsible for the company’s financial success in an industry filled with companies that routinely lose millions of dollars every quarter.
The website contains a collection of links to news stories about Allegiant flight delays, comments from dissatisfied customers and an “un-route map” showing six canceled routes and eight cities where Allegiant pulled out of the market.
The airline makes no secret of being quick to leave a market if it doesn’t meet financial expectations.
The website also includes a video featuring union member Debra Petersen-Barber giving her perspective of fleet and flight scheduling. She notes in the video that because Allegiant maintains a minimal flight schedule per destination — often two or three flights a week between cities — there are few options to rebook if a flight is canceled or delayed.
She also is critical of Allegiant’s use of older aircraft, which are more susceptible to mechanical problems.
Part of the airline’s policy for years has been to maintain minimal schedules in a large number of destinations, a model that’s different from major air carriers. They also say they use planes that still have plenty of flight hours in them because they are inexpensive to acquire on the aircraft market, further reducing costs.
Allegiant announced last year that it will upgrade its fleet with the acquisition of nine used Airbus jets that will be more fuel efficient and have more seats than their current fleet of MD-80 jets. Seven of those planes are expected to be delivered to the airline this year.