Allegiant Confirms Safety Concerns (lack of tower) Behind Loveland Pullout
Loveland October 2, 2012
Contrary to reports by the Loveland Reporter-Herald and The Denver Post, Allegiant's pull-out from using the Ft. Collins, Loveland Municipal Airport was indeed motivated by safety concerns expressed by pilots (who recently formed a union). Despite attempts by the local print media to discredit this website over a story the Managing Editor of the Loveland Reporter Herald called "erroneous" local media in Las Vegas appears to be validating our previous report.
According to Vegas Inc., Allegiant CEO Maury Gallagher told Vegas Inc. columnist and Las Vegas Sun reporter Richard Velotta last week in an interview that Allegiant's pullout from Loveland was related to safety.
"Gallagher said the skies around Fort Collins are filled with enough general aviation aircraft that it became a problem. 'The returns there were reasonable, but you have no tower there, and there are lots of small airplanes flying around, and you don’t know where they’re at,' Gallagher said. 'It’s a delicate issue, and we appreciate that it has been a great market for us over the years. We like the market, but we made a business decision, hard one as it is, that this is better for the traveling public and for Allegiant."
LovelandPolitics reported in late August that the vote by some 350 pilots of Allegiant on August 23, to form a union meant safety concerns expressed by pilots over flying into the Ft. Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport without a control tower had been elevated to management as a potential contract issue for pilots.
Loveland Reporter-Herald Managing Editor Jeff Stahla opened a Live Chat to discuss the pullout by calling LovelandPolitic's story regarding airport safety, "erroneous" while RH reporter Tom Hacker wrote a rebuttal of sorts to the LovelandPolitics story. In the RH rebuttal article (Union President Blasts Allegiant Report) published 8/30/2012 Hacker wrote, "sources interested in the air carrier's operation on Thursday knocked down a spreading rumor that purported to explain the move." In an attempt to dismiss the lack of an airport tower only reported by LovelandPolitics as contributing to the decision, Hacker further argued, "Allegiant officials had said in recent interviews with the Reporter- Herald that the lack of a control tower had not been an issue for the airline's operations in Northern Colorado."
Hacker went on to source Ft. Collins-Loveland Airport Director Jason Licon to further discredit the safety concerns issue cited in the LovelandPolitics story, "Airport director Jason Licon said Allegiant routinely flies into smaller airports that have no towers, and others that have towers operating under contract to the FAA but that are not staffed by agency controllers." In an effort to further demonstrate Loveland's lack of a control tower was not an issue, Hacker even called the director of a New York Airport to get quotes for his article stating the lack of a control tower would not factor into Allegiant's decision.
LovelandPolitics's story on August 29, titled "Allegiant Out of Loveland Because of Union?" detailed the issues pilots had raised regarding the safety of Loveland's airport including the lack of a control tower and length of the runway. LovelandPolitics stood behind our story despite a campaign by the Loveland Reporter-Herald to discredit both our story and news website by referring to the publisher as only a "blogger" while ignoring the news website altogether.
The sources for our original story included several pilots, an Allegiant contract employee and one Teamster Union representative. Because we took their comments offline they were more open about sharing what they knew about the issue recently referred to by the Allegiant CEO as "delicate." Some Allegiant pilots have complained about the lack of a tower in Loveland's airport to their management but without results. The same Allegiant employees believe their company's precipitous departure from the Ft. Collins-Loveland airport was as a result of the union vote. One source told LovelandPolitics, "they don't want any strictures on what types of airports they can provide scheduled service. They knew Loveland was an issue so hoped by cancelling the route this issue will not be in their negotiations."