450 Pinnacle Pilots Could Be Furloughed

By Bill Dries

Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines Corp. could put up to 450 pilots on unpaid furlough leave in the next year and a half.

The head count is the regional air carrier’s first estimate of what Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization could look like for its work force of more than 7,000 people.

When Pinnacle filed for bankruptcy reorganization in New York state earlier this month, the company outlined a plan that would create a smaller business that keeps its reworked contract ties to Delta Air Lines but winds down its flying for two other global carriers – United Airlines and US Airways.

While those agreements have been worked out between Pinnacle and the carriers, still to be negotiated are contracts with three labor unions representing the bulk of Pinnacle’s work force. Before the filing for bankruptcy reorganization, Pinnacle was seeking permanent wage concessions from the unions.

In a filing Tuesday, April 24, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, the court authorized Pinnacle to retain Seabury Advisors LLC as its financial advisor and consultant. The company was hired by CEO Sean Menke in late 2011 as Menke began the restructuring that led to this month’s bankruptcy filing.

Menke resigned as CEO last week effective June 1 in another phase of the reorganization in which chief operating officer John Spanjers took over for Menke.