But apparently didn't have to take economics.
Look, a typical fleet is made up of high-operating-cost, lower-capital-cost aircraft, and lower-maintenance-cost, higher-capital-cost aircraft. Sometimes, the newer stuff requires less maintenance and has higher reliability than the older stuff. But sometimes not. Most of the time, the newer stuff is more fuel-efficient per trip than the older stuff (but sometimes,i.e. on short trips, not meaningfully-so).
To support the CAPITAL cost of the newer stuff, you need to fly it a lot and fly it longer distances per trip. That works, because the newer-stuff often has longer MTBF (mean time between failures). So you fly it more and further, and hopefully make up the capital cost difference per month by the fuel savings and revenue generated. On your shorter runs, or where not every aircraft is needed at all hours to support a sensible operation, you can use lower-capital-cost aircraft. They cost more to fuel and cost more in maintenance and maybe in reliability, but because they don't cost much to own/lease, the revenue they generate can happily exceed the payment you need to make to the bank or lessor each month, even if they aren't flown as much. In fact, at an airline like Allegiant, they can generate LOTS of revenue for which you don't have to pay much in capital costs, and you don't have to stretch yourself to fly shoulder-time, lightly-populated flights just to generate revenue to cover the capital costs of new stuff. This high amount of revenue, of course, allows you to pay for the maintenance necessary to keep the fleet reliable and safe. Safe and reliable tend to go hand-in-hand -- good maintenance to keep the aircraft safe tends to keep dispatch-reliability high.
Airlines like FedEx follow exactly this practice. Older, less-efficient aircraft are assigned to shorter runs and maybe do a single hour-in-each-direction turn each day. Newer aircraft are assigned to longer-range missions, and maybe two round -trips per day. Other (usually-older) aircraft can sit parked several days a week depending upon peak volumes, while the newest aircraft are kept in the air as much as possible. Some older aircraft can be active but on the lowest-level of utlization during much of the year, only to be pressed into more hours of service as the peak season occurs. The mix of aircraft maximizes profitability. World Airways used to have a bunch of widebodies, but they were financed differently. Some older aircraft were on power by the hour leases that were comparatively-expensive when the aircraft were in use, but basically-free when they weren't. This let World have available capacity in the event of breakdown, accidents, or a surge in business, without having to pay the Man every month for aircraft that were more idle.
There just isn't anything untoward about the heavy maintenance done on Allegiant's aircraft. In 2006, they hired American Airlines to do their heavy maintenance, on what was then 24 aircraft, all MD80s. And both sides were happy about the deal. http://www.newson6.com/story/7650461...hub-to-maintain-allegiant-air-jets
But after AA
shut down the ex-TWA shop in MCI
, Tulsa couldn't handle the non-AA business as much. And, of course, Allegiant's fleet was expanding. AA
went from two bays devoted to Allegiant, with one tail a month in each for C-checks, to only being able to promise 12 aircraft a year, to even less. Allegiant would have liked to keep them, but plainly they couldn't handle the needs. They went with AAR
, because, among other things, AAR
was an established operation with a great reputation, and Allegiant's Director of Maintenance had come from AAR
. Allegiant's aircraft are being serviced by a US provider that is widely-respected. So what's the problem? http://investorplace.com/2014/12/aar-corp-airline-stocks/#.VcLRPvlVi1w
That said, THIS is interesting: https://www.apa1224.org/downloads/Allegiant/1503_TAMCReport.pdf
[Edited 2015-08-05 20:31:02]