Allegiant Air pilots plan Thursday strike, 33,000 holiday vacationers could be stranded

StocksAssociated Press

Pilots at discount carrier Allegiant Air are planning a strike Thursday which they say could ground 250 flights, affecting 33,000 customers.

The Las Vegas-based airline has gone to federal court to block the strike, calling it illegal. The airline does not have enough replacement crews to fly its full schedule.

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Thursday is one of Allegiant's busiest travel days. This week is especially popular with more people vacationing for Easter as well as heading to Las Vegas to watch the NCAA March Madness Final Four basketball games.

Allegiant is one of the most profitable airlines in the world, taking vacationers from smaller U.S. cities to warm destinations like Phoenix, Las Vegas and the Florida cities of Orlando and Tampa. It has low base fares but charges extra for seat assignments, placing bags in overhead bins and for drinks including water.

The airline's pilots, represented by the Teamsters union, are upset over the company's change in crew scheduling and a rollback in a disability program and other benefits. The two sides had been negotiating until a stalemate in November.

"Striking is a last resort, but we cannot continue to stand by a company that flaunts the law by robbing the pilots of legally protected rights and benefits," Tom Pozdro, a pilot based in Las Vegas, said in statement released by the union. "We deeply regret the inconvenience to our passengers."

Allegiant said in a statement that it had hoped to address these issues at the bargaining table and called the union's actions "heavy-handed and disruptive."

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott