Federal officials are investigating why an Allegiant Air passenger jet nearly ran out of fuel before landing at an airport that was temporarily closed to most traffic. The Allegiant plane with 144 passengers landed safely last Thursday at Hector International Airport in Fargo, ND, after a flight from Las Vegas. Allegiant said yesterday it's cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration's investigation. While the Fargo airport was the flight's intended destination, it was temporarily closed for practice by the Navy Blue Angels flying team. An air traffic controller can be heard telling an Allegiant pilot that his airline should have known about the closure, according to audio captured by the website LiveATC.net.
The Allegiant pilot said he didn't have enough fuel to reach another airport. When the controller said there would be a window to land in Fargo in 20 minutes, the pilot responded, "I don't have 20 minutes." In a statement emailed to the AP, Allegiant didn't say whether it knew about the temporary Fargo closure. "At this time, we are coordinating with the FAA and the airport to investigate all channels of communication regarding the flight and the circumstances leading to the declaration of emergency," the Las Vegas-based airline says. The airline focuses on flying from smaller airports to vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. (Planes in New York and New Jersey, meanwhile, have been hit with lasers.)