Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called Monday for the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate safety at the low-cost carrier Allegiant Air that is the dominant carrier at Orlando-Sanford International Airport and also serves a half-dozen other Florida cities.

Nelson’s request comes on the heels of a scathing report aired Sunday evening on CBS’s 60 Minutes show that raised questions about the airline’s safety record and the FAA’s record of responding to it.

In a letter sent today to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Nelson, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said the FAA’s potential lack of oversight warrants scrutiny.

“The traveling public deserves to know whether the FAA is conducting thorough safety oversight of Allegiant,” Nelson wrote. “Anything less could lead to disastrous consequences.”

Allegiant responded contending that, while the airline maintains the CBS report was a misleading narrative based on biased and uninformed sources, “we welcome any analysis of our operation and safety culture, at any time. Citing labor issues resulting in a heightened media environment, the FAA in 2016 moved up the timeline of its regularly-scheduled audit of Allegiant operations. The resulting extensive examination found no regulatory or systemic issues; we promptly addressed and rectified any minor issues raised.

“Safety is at the heart of our operations and is the guiding star for our company. Our employees and families fly on our airline, along with the nearly 90 million passengers who have traveled with us since Allegiant began,” the airline concluded.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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