Allegiant Travel boss sells back $25 million in stock

Chairman and CEO Maurice Gallagher still owns about 20 percent of company

Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., chairman/CEO of Allegiant Air, walks through the company’s new Airbus A319 passenger jet during an aircraft “open house” for employees at McCarran International Airport Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. The new jet is more fuel efficient than the company’s current jets.

Talk about a good payday.

The parent company of discount carrier Allegant Air has bought back 200,000 shares at $126.20 apiece from Chairman and CEO Maurice Gallagher, the Las Vegas company said today.

That amounts to a $25.24 million windfall for the airline boss.

Allegiant Travel Co. said Gallagher plans to use the proceeds “for other ventures he is pursuing personally.” It did not elaborate.

The stock sale occurred Tuesday, a securities filing shows.

“I remain as committed to Allegiant as the day I started the company,” Gallagher said in a news release. “Allegiant has proven to be consistently profitable, has continually produced strong financial metrics and is one of the few airlines which can grow and return cash to shareholders. I am looking forward to my continued investment and involvement in the company for many years.”

Gallagher, who does not take a base salary, still holds more than 3.6 million shares in Allegiant, the company said. That gives him ownership of about 20 percent of the company.

He had not sold any company shares, other than stock-incentive transactions, since 2010, Allegiant said. The company, meanwhile, said it still has the authority to buy back roughly $16 million in Allegiant stock.

The carrier has been on a borrowing binge this year, taking on $385 million in debt by selling bonds and by mortgaging almost its entire fleet of aircraft.

Executives are using the proceeds in large part to buy Airbus planes, but they also said they wanted funds to buy back shares.

Allegiant shuttles leisure travelers across the country, mostly from small, underserved cities to popular vacation spots. It has been profitable for 11 1/2 years straight.