Pinnacle Airlines to move to Minneapolis - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Pinnacle Airlines to move to Minneapolis

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Pinnacle Airline's former Downtown Memphis headquarters at One Commerce Square (Sarah Bleau / FOX13 News) Pinnacle Airline's former Downtown Memphis headquarters at One Commerce Square (Sarah Bleau / FOX13 News)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

FOX13 News has confirmed that Pinnacle Airlines will move its headquarters from Memphis to Minneapolis.

According to an internal memo from Pinnacle Airlines CEO and President John Spanjers, the airline's tenative plan calls for its move to Minneapolis by May 2013.

MORE: Many Pinnacle employees no plans to leave Memphis

MORE:  Pinnacle Airlines E-mail from John Spanjers

MORE:  Pinnacle Airlines Press Release

MORE: Pinnacle Airline Timeline

The move affects hundreds of employees.

The decision by Pinnacle Air to move its headquarters from Downtown Memphis to the Twin Cities comes nine days after the airline and its pilots group ratified the tentative agreement reached with ALPA in December.

Pinnacle set a Jan. 31 deadline if the airline would keep its headquarters at One Commerce Square or move their operations to Minnesota.

The airline's decision to move from Memphis to Minneapolis-St. Paul comes after an exhaustive evaluation of the most cost-effective option as the airline emerges from Chapter 11, the airline said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"We had the responsibility to explore every aspect of our business to find opportunities to reduce costs, including evaluating our property leases, to find the most economical options for Pinnacle," Spanjers said in a media release. "Our analysis covered everything from the available labor pool and operational alignment to economic incentives. Both Memphis and the State of Minnesota presented very strong cases. In the end, it was an economic decision."

 The airline will move its operation into a vacant space that is leased by Delta Airlines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"We especially appreciate the efforts of Gov. Bill Haslam and the State of Tennessee, Mayor A C Wharton and the City of Memphis, the Downtown Memphis Commission, our landlord at One Commerce Square, Gov. Mark Dayton and the State of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Delta," Spanjers said. "They all were very aggressive in working with us and our decision was difficult to make."

The airline has been debating its headquarters move from Memphis to Minneapolis for at least the past six months as it restructured under bankruptcy protection. Since August 2012, city and county leaders have tried to persuade Pinnacle to remain in Memphis and not back out of its lease of 14 floors at One Commerce Square.

Pinnacle moved to South Main Street in October 2010 with considerable fanfare and generous tax breaks as part of the rebirth of Downtown Memphis. A year later, the recession clipped its wings.

In September 2012, Pinnacle's Chief Financial Officer Curt Berchtold added new worries that Pinnacle will move from the Bluff City to Minneapolis. In an e-mail from his former employer Silver Airways, Berchtold wrote to colleagues, "my wife and four kids miss Minnesota in a big way, and so I have accepted the CFO position with Pinnacle Airlines which will allow us to relocate back home."

A month later, in October 2012, Pinnacle decided to close its maintenance hangar in Memphis by January 2013 and move 50 of its employees for the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport on the Ohio-Kentucky state line.

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