Pinnacle Airlines finds a new owner and a new headquarters

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2013 - 10:06 AM

After it emerges from bankruptcy this month, the regional carrier will be owned by Delta and based in Minnesota.

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Delta's CRJ-900, with new Pinnacle livery on the nose, seats 76 passengers.

Photo: Delta Air Lines ,

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Spring has a special, more than symbolic meaning for Pinnacle Airlines this year.

Later this month the regional carrier will emerge from a painful bankruptcy as a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, a legacy carrier that is among the largest in the world.

And in May, Memphis-based Pinnacle will become Minnesota-based Pinnacle as it relocates its headquarters to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

To date, the most evidence of Pinnacle’s move to MSP has been a pair of job fairs held last month to find headquarters employees as well as additional flight attendants. More recruiting events are expected later this month.

“The numbers are still fluid but we expect to have about 250 positions in Minneapolis. Some new, some of whom are transfers,” said Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams.

Pinnacle is also hiring mechanics and technicians for its new operation.

Pinnacle’s new headquarters will be in a structure known as “Building C Tower” at 34th Avenue and Interstate 494.

Besides administrative functions such as accounting, finance and human resources, the headquarters also will house Pinnacle’s flight operations center, which handles aircraft and crew scheduling.

The relocation of Pinnacle from Memphis to Minneapolis made fiscal sense, said Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur.

“As they went through bankruptcy, Pinnacle went through an evaluation of its most cost-effective options, and Minneapolis was the most cost effective,” Baur said. “Memphis and Minnesota both made very strong cases for themselves, but in the end it was ultimately an economic decision.”

Forgivable loan

Minnesota, through the Department of Employment and Economic Development, will provide $550,000 to Pinnacle in the form of a forgivable loan if the carrier creates 200 new full-time jobs in the state.

“Have you seen all the job postings on the Internet?” asked Dan Boivin, chairman of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “This is good for us.”

Boivin said he hopes that Pinnacle’s move to Minneapolis will result in additional service out of MSP for outstate Minnesota cities where scheduled service has been reduced or eliminated.

Pinnacle has 5,000 employees systemwide, including 1,100 in Minnesota, before the headquarters announcement. Its fleet includes 140 CRJ-200 jets that seat 50 passengers and 41 CRJ-900 jets with a 76-seat capacity and a separate first-class area. Pinnacle serves 124 cities.

According to bankruptcy proceedings, Pinnacle’s fleet will eventually consist of 81 CRJ-900s with the smaller CRJ-200s being phased out over the next two to three years.

Pinnacle is one of seven regional carriers that are part of the Delta Connection system. They provide service on 50- to 76-seat jets on routes to and from Delta’s hub cities. After it emerges from bankruptcy, Pinnacle will be the only connections carrier owned by Delta.

Minneapolis-based Compass Airlines also is part of Delta Connection, as are Atlanta-based ExpressJet and St. George, Utah-based SkyWest.

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