Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I've just come back from a long trip.

I was going to tell you about something that happened on it.

It'll have to wait, as I've just been assaulted by an extraordinary article in the Tampa Bay Times.

It's all about one American airline whose planes break down in flight a little more often than anyone else's.

Actually, you might even say this airline's planes break down during flight a lot more often.

Four times more often.

(I pause for your gulping and ululation.)

I confess to being a touch taken aback that one airline could have such an outstanding record.

Yet here is Allegiant Air, whose planes seem to show rather less allegiance to mechanical fortitude than you wish they would.

I'll offer you some highlights from the article.

Allegiant has 86 planes. Forty-two of them broke down at least once mid-flight last year.

Allegiant's planes had at least 77 forced landings due to serious mechanical failures.

Allegiant enjoyed 39 engine failures between January 2015 and September 2016.

Allegiant repaired important parts of its planes, only to see the same parts break down again, 18 times last year.

Allegiant's planes are, on average, 22 years old. Despite this, it only has maintenance engineers at 11 of the 118 airports that give it hospitality. (This is actually in proportionate line with most other airlines)

For every 10,000 flights, an airline has -- on average -- three unexpected landings. Last year, Allegiant had 12.

My rudimentary math tells me that Allegiant appears to have four times the unexpected landings due to mechanical malfunction than do other airlines.

There's more, but I hope this offers a decent flavor.

Naturally, Las Vegas-based Allegiant offers lower fares. But at what price?

Some call for the airline to be forcibly discontinued.

When the Times's reporters talked to Allegiant executives, they didn't seem to argue much with the paper's findings.

They talked of operations being under pressure and a need to slow down.

Indeed, Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher told the Tampa Bay Times: "I can look at what we did [in 2015] and it wasn't acceptable."

You might think it odd that the Federal Aviation Administration hasn't taken a closer look at an airline that some passengers rely on because it often flies from the less salubrious airports.

It seems, though, that the FAA hasn't found anything grave enough to merit action after a three-month review of Allegiant's operations.

For its part, Allegiant says that it's changing its ways and investing $1 billion to improve things.

In recent times, airlines have reached for profit like a famished dog reaches for raw steak on a kitchen counter.

But surely Allegiant can't have made much money with all these apparent problems, can it?

Well, last December it posted a net profit for the quarter of $56.7 million. Compared to the same quarter the year before, this represented 11 times more profit.

Indeed, in 2015 Allegiant was the most profitable airline in America.

Ah. Oh.

Nov 6, 2016