As Allegiant Air attempts to get its fleet completely up and running again, flights out of Bellingham were returning to a regular schedule on Monday, Sept. 23.
According to the airlines' website, flights out of Bellingham either left on time or were scheduled to leave on time. This includes flights to Las Vegas; Oakland and Palm Springs, Calif.; and Honolulu. That's a big contrast to what happened on Friday, Sept. 20, when four flights were canceled and one was delayed.
The airline is trying to get back on track after grounding as many as 30 of its fleet of 52 MD-80 planes on Friday, Sept. 20. Allegiant discovered a compliance issue with its emergency exit slides. That required an immediate inspection of its MD-80 fleet.
By the end of Monday, Allegiant was expected to have 32 of its MD-80s back in operation, said Brian Davis, spokesman for Allegiant Air. The company will continue to contract additional planes from other airlines to help avoid further flight cancelations. He anticipates the entire fleet of Allegiant MD-80s to be back in operation by the end of September.
From Friday through Monday, Davis said 5,687 passengers were affected by cancelations, representing about 10 percent of the total Allegiant passengers that flew during that period. The airports most affected by this grounding of flights were in Las Vegas, Orlando and Bellingham.
In Bellingham, the biggest flight delays and cancelations were on Friday and Saturday, with flights returning to normal on Sunday, said Dan Zenk, aviation director for the Port of Bellingham. He noted that Allegiant brought extra planes into Bellingham to lessen the impact.
"I think they handled it well," Zenk said. "It could have been much worse."
On Sunday, 24 of the 181 Allegiant flights scheduled were canceled. Davis said that 12 of 146 flights were canceled on Monday, with many of those pushed over to Tuesday, typically a lighter day of the week in terms of travel.
Allegiant has offered compensation for those impacted by the flight delays and cancelations, mostly in the form of travel vouchers.
The compliance issue came to light during a federal investigation of a Sept. 16 incident at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Passengers used the slides to evacuate after a smoke detector was activated, and while those slides were in compliance, Davis said, it prompted an investigation on how frequent the Allegiant MD-80 slides were inspected.