Pinnacle Airlines moving HQ to Minn.by Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines plans to move its headquarters to the Twin Cities by May.
The airline, which provides regional air services for Delta Air Lines, has about 500 employees at its Tennessee headquarters.
Pinnacle has been reorganizing under bankruptcy protection since last year. When it emerges, it will become part of Delta Air Lines Inc. Pinnacle plans to move into space that Delta has rented but is not using at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Metropolitan Airports Commission executive director Jeff Hamiel said the move would bring many jobs to Minnesota.
"The detail as to how many jobs will actually come to Minnesota has yet to be determined," Hamiel said. "And that's partly because Pinnacle is still working its bankruptcy proceedings through the courts, and we don't know the actual number. But we expect at least a couple of hundred jobs."
The state lost about 200 jobs when Pinnacle closed Mesaba Airlines' Minnesota headquarters in 2011, as Pinnacle absorbed that carrier.
Hamiel noted: "As Pinnacle comes into the Twin Cities, we will regain a significant portion, if not all of those jobs back again. There may not be as many jobs returning to the Twin Cities that may have left when Mesaba was acquired by Pinnacle. But certainly the leadership and the headquarters of the company is coming to the Twin Cities."
He said the airports commission might spend roughly $500,000 to upgrade the office space to get it ready for Pinnacle, but other than that it's not offering any financial incentives to lure the airline.
State officials have been working to bring Pinnacle's headquarters here for about a year. The state would give Pinnacle some financial incentives but those enticements and the deal's details are not final yet.
Former Northwest executive John Spanjers has been Pinnacle's CEO since June 2012. Spanjers was president of Minnesota-based Mesaba Airlines when Pinnacle acquired it in 2010.
The regional airline business has been going through a major shakeout as rising fuel prices making the 50-seat jets that were an important part of Pinnacle's fleet unprofitable. And big airlines like Delta have been pressuring the small airlines they hire, like Pinnacle, to cut costs.
Pinnacle has been shrinking. When it filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2012 it flew 199 regional jets and 62 turboprops. It expects to emerge from bankruptcy flying 81 regional jets for Delta.
This is Pinnacle's second move in less than two years.
In August 2011 it moved across town to prime office space in downtown Memphis after city and Tennessee officials lobbied it to keep it in the city rather than move to Mississippi. Officials helped put together a $17.4 million bond deal, and private investors bought a former bank building and renovate it to be the airline's headquarters.
Pinnacle and Delta did not respond to requests for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.