Allegiant delays flights to inspect MD-80 slides

LAS VEGAS - Allegiant Airlines took more than half of its fleet of MD-80 aircraft out of service Friday to inspect emergency slides, four days after passengers and crew members deployed the devices to escape to the tarmac when smoke was reported on an Allegiant plane in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., parent company of the airline, issued a statement saying Friday's inspections were linked to an unspecified "compliance issue" found during a follow-up review of Monday's evacuation at McCarran International Airport.

"All of the slides on the aircraft involved in the evacuation Monday were up-to-date and compliant," company spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said in an email. "However, that event triggered a maintenance review which found issues with other slides in our fleet."

No injuries were reported among the 144 passengers and six crew members who used slides to evacuate an Allegiant aircraft before takeoff for Peoria, Ill. The inspection action covers 30 of the airline's 52 MD-80s.

In the statement, company President Andrew Levy apologized for disruption to travelers and promised around-the-clock work to ensure aircraft safety. The airline said delays, rescheduling and cancelations were expected during the next several days, and that inspections were expected to be completed by the end of September.

FAA official Ian Gregor in Hawthorne, Calif., said the agency was checking Allegiant's compliance with door slide inspection requirements.

Allegiant serves about 100 mostly small cities and vacation destinations including Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas and the Phoenix area. It carried nearly 2.3 passengers to McCarran airport in 2012.

McCarran spokesman Chris Jones reported little disruption Friday at the Las Vegas airport, and said staff was monitoring travelers to ensure orderly lines if necessary. He said it was up to Allegiant to accommodate travelers whose Sin City vacations may be extended.

Allegiant announced last month that it was adding service to 10 airports including two near New York City.

Shares in Allegiant Travel slipped $3.03 on Friday, to $99.96 in midday trading.

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