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LAS VEGAS — 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.
Allegiant has said it is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration's investigation of the incident.
The Allegiant plane with 144 passengers landed safely last Thursday at Hector International Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, after a flight from Las Vegas.
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 company 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.
He was forced to declare an emergency to clear the airspace into Fargo so he could land.
"We don't have enough fuel to go anywhere else," the pilot told the Fargo tower. “And our guys are trying to get in touch with the tower manager right now to coordinate our landing or I'm going to have to declare an emergency and come in and land."
The Fargo tower gave the pilot a phone number to try, and then told him the airspace would be clear enough to land if he could wait another 20 minutes.
"Yeah, I don't have 20 minutes," the pilot said.
The tower then recommended another airport 70 miles to the north, the recording shows.
"Yeah, listen, we're bingo fuel here in about probably three to four minutes and I got to come in and land," the pilot said.
"Bingo fuel" is a military term meaning the pilot doesn't have enough fuel for anything but returning to base and cannot continue on a mission.
The aircraft made a safe landing shortly after 1 p.m.
Allegiant Airlines tell NBC News “Flight 426 with scheduled service from LAS to FAR on July 23, 2015 declared a fuel emergency upon arrival at Hector International Airport (FAR) and subsequently landed safely.”
“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 said.
The airline, a subsidiary of Allegiant Travel Co., focuses on flying from smaller airports to vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida.