The Allegiant Air CEO Maury Gallagher has caused something of a sensation in a highly quotable outburst that occurred in a meeting of mostly airport operators. According to the account of Brian Summers of Skift, Gallagher told the room that passengers “don’t give a damn about your airports nor do they give a damn about the interior of my airplanes”.
Gallagher is not known to be a controversial figure, so this contentious statement can be considered somewhat out of character. Nonetheless, the response on Twitter has already been quite heated, with one highly upvoted tweet suggesting that Gallagher should concentrate on improving the service delivered by Allegiant, rather than berating his own customers.
While some Twitter responses to the revelation defended the airline, the overall sentiment was negative towards Allegiant and its CEO, and it will be interesting to see whether there will be any long-term impact on the company’s business. Allegiant has often positioned itself as the only operator working a particular route, so this will obviously help its commercial operation going forward.
Allegiant’s operation is heavily focused on the discount market and has established itself within the top ten airlines in the United States by placing a particular emphasis on domestic flights. Recent commercial results have been encouraging for Allegiant, with the company posting 64 consecutive profitable quarters by the end of 2018, and having increased revenue year-on-year during the most recent fiscal year.
However, in common with other budget airlines, Allegiant has often been criticized for its willingness to tack hidden charges on to its flights, in an attempt to rake in further revenue. Indeed, around half of the company’s income is derived from this ‘ancillary billing’. This is seen by many consumers as a dishonest practice that is lacking in transparency, and sometimes even deliberately misleading.
Nonetheless, the carrier has recently announced its intention to undergo a major network expansion, with the intention of competing with other US-based carriers in the domestic market. The plan will see 24 new routes added to the existing Allegiant portfolio. And the carrier has also been working on improving its customer experience, with trials having recently taken place on select Los Angeles flights of a new premium seat.
But as recently as June, Allegiant was facing a fine in excess of $700,000 over improper maintenance on one of the company’s McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft. While this matter has yet to be resolved, the fallout from it was far from positive for Allegiant.
The budget airline market has become ever more competitive, both in Europe and the United States, with more and more companies targeting this critical aspect of the airline industry. While Allegiant has experienced considerable success in this space, it would perhaps be advisable for its CEO to be more diplomatic when describing customer behavior in the future.
What do you think of Gallagher’s comments? Let us know in the comments.