An Allegiant Air plane flying out of Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport Saturday was forced to make an emergency landing in Panama City.
Allegiant officials said the emergency was "in name only."
Flight 1921, headed for Baltimore, MD, diverted shortly after takeoff to Bay County's Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, according to Allegiant Air spokeswoman Hilarie Grey
"The captain received an indication that the aircraft’s flaps did not fully retract. The captain opted to have this checked out, but could not return to Destin due to the length of the runway," Grey said in an email.
The issue with the wing flaps was such that the runway Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport shares with Eglin Air Force Base would have been too short for a safe landing to be made, she said.
"The closest airport with a runway of sufficient length was (Panama City), which is why the flight diverted there," Grey said. "This was an emergency landing in name only – not due to an imminent safety issue, but rather a technical one."
Because Allegiant does not have scheduled service out of Panama City, an emergency declaration was required in order to obtain clearance to land per FAA regulation, Grey said.
Tracy Stage, Okaloosa County’s airports director, said local officials played “an absolute supportive role” to Allegiant Air, which has a hub at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.
He said the Airports Division staff had assisted the airline in getting passengers from the flight back to the local airport for rebooking and that Allegiant had sent a bus to pick up passengers from the re-routed flight.
The plane that was forced to abort its flight plans was later flown from Panama City to St. Petersburg to be inspected, reports said.