Pinnacle Names New CEO

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Pinnacle COO John Spanjers
Pinnacle Airlines has chosen COO John Spanjers to become its next chief executive. (Image: Pinnacle Airlines)
April 19, 2012, 12:17 PM

Current Pinnacle Airlines COO John Spanjers will replace Sean Menke as chief executive of the Memphis, Tennessee-based regional airline group on June 1, Pinnacle said in a statement issued Thursday. Menke, who, according to Pinnacle, has chosen to resign from the company, has agreed to help with the leadership transition over the next five weeks. Spanjers has served as COO at Pinnacle since leaving his position as president of Pinnacle subsidiary Mesaba Aviation in September 2011.

Pinnacle said it does not expect the transition to affect the timeline of the company’s restructuring and emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As of Menke’s departure on June 1, Pinnacle expects to have achieved a number of restructuring objectives during the initial 60 days of its Chapter 11 proceedings, including the renegotiation of “key business agreements” with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Canada’s Export Development Corporation; gaining final approval of its debtor-in-possession financing; completing the Section 1110 aircraft process; receiving final court approval of its “First Day motions” to help it continue to operate normally; and establishing a collaborative relationship with the unsecured creditors’ committee.

Pinnacle added that a search for a replacement CFO continues and “is progressing” following the resignation of Ted Christie. On April 1 Christie moved to Spirit Airlines, where he holds the same position.

Pinnacle’s April 1 Chapter 11 filing marked the start of a process in which the company plans to “wind down” all its United Express turboprop flying, including its entire Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 and Saab 340 operations. It also intends to restructure its regional jet agreement with Delta Air Lines and gain the release of all the Essential Air Service responsibilities associated with its US Airways and United contracts.

Plans call for the remaining Saab 340 flying Colgan conducts as United Express to end by August 1. The airline plans to completely end its Q400 operations from Newark and Houston by November 30.

Meanwhile, it also plans to remove 16 owned CRJ900s from its Delta Connection operation by some time next year. It expects to continue all other flying for Delta with 41 leased CRJ900s and 142 CRJ200s.

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