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Pinnacle Airlines hits restart button, changes name to Endeavor Air

Pinnacle is now a Delta subsidiary
REUTERS/Jeff Haynes
Pinnacle is now a Delta subsidiary and its pilots exclusively fly Delta Connection regional flights.

After a painful 13-month bankruptcy that played out in a New York courthouse, Pinnacle Airlines is revamping itself in the Twin Cities.

The regional carrier recently moved its headquarters to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, leaving Memphis where former Pinnacle executives struggled to merge Pinnacle, Mesaba and Colgan airlines into one well-functioning airline.

Delta Air Lines provided the financing to allow Pinnacle Airlines to emerge from bankruptcy on May 1, and Delta is supplying the executives to transform the carrier.

Pinnacle is now a Delta subsidiary and its pilots exclusively fly Delta Connection regional flights. Management's desire to give the regional airline a rebirth is so strong that Pinnacle recently announced it will change its name to Endeavor Air.

Pinnacle employees have been voting on a new logo design. It will be unveiled on June 26 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Endeavor Air that will be held at a Twin Cities' airport building near Interstate 494.

Re-branding is typically done for a consumer audience, but in this case the new airline name and logo may be targeted more directly at the Pinnacle employees.

It appears that the new executive team is trying to build a new culture for the airline after a bruising and chaotic period for Pinnacle employees.

The carrier lost its flying contracts with United and US Airways, Pinnacle employees agreed to concessions during bankruptcy and Delta is reducing Pinnacle's fleet.

At one phase of the Pinnacle labor negotiations, the frustrations of union pilots went well beyond proposed pay cuts. Several pilots were getting paychecks that weren't accurate, so they had the added stress of not knowing when they would get their money to pay their mortgages and other bills.

Better workplace

Delta, which emphasizes on-time flights and employee engagement, clearly expects the new team of Pinnacle executives to construct a better airline and workplace.

Delta is phasing out Pinnacle's 50-seat aircraft, because its leadership has emphasized that the economics of those planes don't work with high fuel prices.  

As part of a three-way deal involving Pinnacle, Delta and the pilots union, Pinnacle gets to keep 41 76-seat regional jets and Delta will allocate 40 more large regional jets to Pinnacle.

The new Canadair Regional Jets, known as CRJ-900s, are scheduled to start arriving in September. Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams said that the first 12 planes are expected to arrive by the end of this year and an additional 28 are set for delivery in 2014. Passengers who fly on the 76-seaters will have access to first-class cabins.

In January, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development acknowledged that Pinnacle would receive a $550,000 forgivable loan for moving its headquarters to the Twin Cities.

In the scheme of Delta's finances, that's not a huge figure. Multiple Delta Connection regional carriers transport Delta passengers to hubs, where they make connections to fly to larger U.S. and international cities. In the middle of last year, Delta had 343 50-seaters in its fleet and it plans to reduce that number substantially. By removing 50-seaters from Pinnacle and other regional carriers, Delta has estimated it expects to save more than $400 million over three years. That savings includes avoiding expensive maintenance work.

New executive team

In a May communication to Delta employees, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said: "Regional flying is and will continue to be an important part of our network." He highlighted the importance of new Pinnacle President Ryan Gumm and other new leaders to ensure that "we provide a good service to our customers."

Gumm, who has worked as a pilot, served in top management roles at Delta Private Jets and Comair, a Delta regional airline subsidiary. Pinnacle's chief financial officer and chief operating officer both have extensive management experience with Delta.

Pinnacle's new chief administrative officer is Mike Becker, who had a long career at Eagan-based Northwest Airlines. Becker led human resources at Northwest and served as a Delta executive following the Delta-Northwest merger.

Minnesota's prominent role in the aviation world took a major hit when Northwest was absorbed by Atlanta-based Delta in 2008. The state's status slipped again when Memphis-based Pinnacle bought Eagan-based Mesaba for $62 million in 2010.

Now Minnesotans can watch the rebuilding of Pinnacle Airlines, which soon will have a new name.

In a memo to employees, Gumm said that Endeavor Air was chosen because it represents innovation, excitement and the adventure of a journey.

It may also symbolize an olive branch to employees. In the memo, Gumm wrote: "Endeavor Air represents the starting point for redefining our airline and from here we will blend the best of what we know with new ideas aimed at making Endeavor Air the best place to work in the regional industry."

Fedor can be reached at lfedor@minnpost.com. She is on Twitter @LizFedor.

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Comments (5)

Endeavor Air?

Is not a name that inspires confidence in me. Endeavor means an earnest attemp, to try. I want an airline company to do more than "try".

Endeavor—what an encouraging name

Merriam-Webster definition: "to strive to achieve or reach"

Will their logo be "I think I can, I think I can?"

Endeavor Air What A Joke

Maybe they can "Endeavor" to give the pilots back the decent contract that was gutted in bankruptcy. Or maybe they can "Endeavor" to properly staff the company and pay support staff what they are worth.......

Within 2 years Delta will either scrap this company like Comair, or sell them off like ASA.....this ruthless ex NWA management team at Delta doesn't care about employees or passengers just the bottom line.

But of course "being wholly owned means everything"....just ask Comair and ASA.....

The truth

Yes Pinnacle employees did take big concessions, but it wasn't because of the bankruptcy court. Mother Delta shoved the concessions down the employees throats. Delta brought their proposal to the bankruptcy judge and he said NO, "this isn't going to be another race to the bottom". Then Delta decided that they weren't going to go back to court. They gave the employees a choice, except the contract we give you, or we are going to shut you down. After they just shut Comair down no one had any reason to believe that they wouldn't follow through with their threat.

I have worked there for a number of years. I have lost between $1200-$1500 per month in pay, I'll be lucky to gross $65000 this year. Not to mention all the work-rules and the one week of vacation we lost. For the first six years I was there we were (the pilots) working under a contract that was ratified on May 1, 1999 it was good through May 1, 2005. The pilots were one of the lowest paid in the industry. The company refused to sign a new contract for years, finally in February 2011 we signed a new contract that was industry standard. We received raises and some improvements in work rules, yah. So that 5 year contract turned into a 11 year contract. Well, that new contract we signed in 2011 just got gutted in 2012. I am now back to making the same wages I would have been making in 2005 under the old contract. So if you take that $65000 and take taxes out of it, all the hotels I need to buy throughout the year $2400, airport parking $500, food, tips for the van drivers, medicals, ALPA dues, health insurance $5000 per year, I'll be better off working at Walmart. At least this way I can be home to see my kids grow up.

Changing the name isn't going to change the culture.

Signed,
Fed Up

Another truth

Yea it must suck but there are other company's here ... My father has raised me as a single parent (I'm now 18). He has been working at masaba for 18 years as an airline mechanic , and he makes less now then he did 12 years ago. He brings home about $52,000-54,000 dollars a year. And that if he works a shit load of over time. Yes pilots are important they fly the plane and they get everyone to ground. I'm not saying it's unimportant but the people who fix it, the people who work there asses of to make sure it doesn't fall to ground when it's in mid air get over looked. How about focus on the blue collar workers as well as the white collar ones when writing something like this. Because it's not like they don't exist or they weren't harmed by this, so let's add them in there.