Allegiant Air could pay $266K fine for lapses in drug testing, FAA says

"Our initial assessment is that the safety of our operation was not compromised," Allegiant's vice president of safety and security said.

By Doug G. Ware

LAS VEGAS, May 30 (UPI) -- Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air may have to pay more than $266,000 to the Federal Aviation Administration for allegedly violating drug and alcohol testing procedures.

The FAA said more than two dozen employees of the carrier were not included in the random drug and alcohol screening pool -- despite the fact that they performed safety-sensitive functions for the airline.


"Eleven of these employees performed safety-sensitive duties on multiple occasions when they were not in the random pools," the FAA said in a statement on its website.

The FAA also said one particular employee was allowed to self administer a follow-up drug test, unsupervised, after an earlier test netted a positive result. That employee was responsible for "multiple safety-sensitive duties following the improperly observed test," the agency said.

The Department of Transportation mandates that employees who test positive must be monitored when they take a follow-up screen.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is always our number one priority at Allegiant," the airline's vice president of safety and security, Eric Gust, said. "We are currently reviewing all of the records and events associated with the FAA allegation.


"However, our initial assessment is that the safety of our operation was not compromised."

Allegiant, a low-cost carrier designed to compete with Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue Airways, is scheduled to meet with FAA officials in mid-June to discuss the case.

The FAA's claim is that several employees who are directly responsible for passenger safety were not included in a candidate pool from which random drug and alcohol tests are ordered. These positions include airline pilots, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, maintenance workers, dispatchers and security screeners.

Allegiant Air, founded in 1997, flies to several destinations across the United States -- and particularly targets leisure travelers, often transporting them from colder northern cities to warm southern climates like Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix.

Last week, the FAA granted Allegiant permission to expand to new airports and fly new routes.

Also Friday, the FAA proposed a $91,500 civil penalty against a helicopter operator in Colorado for permitting a chopper that wasn't airworthy to fly four times last year.

A $70,050 civil penalty was proposed against the University of Wisconsin-Madison, after a representative of the university allegedly offered an undeclared hazardous material shipment to Delta Air Lines for transport on a passenger flight from Madison to Minneapolis.


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