BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - If you have flown out of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport recently, or even just parked in the parking garage, you have probably seen them - about a dozen Allegiant Airlines planes just sitting there. It looks like some kind of airplane party, but in fact the aging MD-80 aircraft have been decommissioned from the airline.
The planes were notorious for mechanical problems and Allegiant faced sharp criticisms after several high profile media investigations into the planes safety records. A 60 Minutes report found that Allegiant was three-and-a-half times more likely to have in-air mechanical issues than other major airlines between January 2016 and October 2017. That was in large part to the MD-80 planes, which made up a significant portion of the airlines fleet and were often more than 20 years old.
Now, Allegiant boasts a fleet made entirely of modern Airbus planes. But the future for the old MD-80’s is unclear.
For now, we know at least a dozen of them have been sent to Birmingham based Stewart Industries International. According to their website, Stewart Industries offers services for the full life cycle of an airplane including replacement parts, maintenance and overhaul services, and storage, as well as dismantling and disposal of old aircraft. The company is under a non-disclosure agreement and could not tell WBRC what kind of contract they have with Allegiant for the planes.