Pinnacle Airlines Corp. ( PNCL)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

November 3, 2011 10:00 am ET


Brian T. Hunt – Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Sean E. Menke – President and Chief Executive Officer

Edward M. Christie III – Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


Richa Talwar – Deutsche Bank Securities

Glenn Engel – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Helane Becker – Dahlman Rose & Co. LLC

Duane Pfennigwerth – Evercore Partners Inc.

Bob Mcadoo – Avondale Partners LLC



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Third Quarter 2011 Pinnacle Airlines Earnings Conference Call. My name is Tania, and I will be your conference moderator for today. (Operator Instructions) Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to hand the presentation over to your host for today, Mr. Brian Hunt, Vice President and General Counsel. Please proceed.

Brian T. Hunt

Thank you, Tania. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call of Pinnacle Airlines Corp. On behalf of the employees of Pinnacle, I would like to thank you for your interest in our company.

This call is being presented live over the Internet via webcast from our Web site, It will also be available on our site for 30 days after this call.

Our presentation today contains various forward-looking statements that are based on assumptions and information currently available to management. Although, we believe the expectations reflected in such statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct. Such statements are also subject to certain risks and uncertainties set forth in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These filings are available to investors at our Web site or online from the commission. Should any of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove erroneous, actual results may vary materially from the results that were anticipated or projected.

The company does not intend to update these forward-looking statements before its next required filing with the SEC.

I will now turn the call over to Sean Menke, our President and Chief Executive Officer.

Sean E. Menke

Thanks, Brian. I’d actually like to do introduction of a couple other people in the room, before I get started. I have Ted Christie, the CFO of the organization with me, as well as John Spanjers, our Chief Operating Officer. There are other officers in the room as well, but the four of us will actually be answering questions during the Q&A session.

Before I pass the call over to Ted Christie, our Chief Financial Officer, to discuss the financial details of the quarter, I do want to thank the nearly 8,000 professionals within Pinnacle Airlines Corp.

Following a challenging quarter from an operating perspective, we took steps in the third quarter that translated into significantly improved performance. I am the first to admit that we have more work to do, but I am pleased with the progress and dedication made to fix those things plaguing us.

As for the third quarter financial results, I am disappointed, but understand that much of the disappointment is due in part to the transitional phase we are in with – in respect to the business. After joining the organization in July, it became abundantly clear to me, the work ahead of us. As I stated in the second quarter earnings call, many of the decisions and projects we have embarked upon are stacked upon us now.

These projects, all that important to reaching our future-state objectives, are costly and require a significant amount of oversight to execute properly. Within the quarter, we made significant headway on these notable items. We began implementation of the integrated pilot seniority list. Additionally, we negotiated and agreed to a side letter with the pilots to more efficiently implement the integration. We negotiated and ratified the new five-year contract with the Pinnacle Airlines flight attendants.

We began the move to consolidate all of our corporate functions into our new headquarter facility. The move thus far has included relocation of nearly half of our corporate staff, the Pinnacle Airlines SOC, the Colgan Air SOC and our network data center. None of these are easy, but are critical to our overall business.

We also negotiated a tentative settlement with Delta Airlines on disputes associated with work done during our heavy maintenance visits on the CRJ-200 fleet.

We began pulling down the vast majority of pro-rate flying within the US Air network, with the majority of it to be completed by year-end. Elimination of this service reduces unprofitable pro-rate flying and provides additional pilots to build up staffing levels to implement a pilots integrated seniority list. We also completed a significant amount of work with the oversight of the FAA to move our jet operations onto the Pinnacle Airlines operating certificate. The FAA has approved the essential elements to transfer the Mesaba CRJ-200 and 900 aircraft to Pinnacle Airlines’ certificate. The final step is to complete certain exercises to ensure that oversight of operation is consistent with our FAA-approved operating guidelines.

These exercises will take place over the next couple of weeks. Upon completion of these exercises, we will transfer the Mesaba jet aircraft onto the Pinnacle Airline certificate. We believe these final steps will be completed by year-end and all Mesaba aircraft will be operating under the Pinnacle Airline Certificate in a fenced environment. As I mentioned, the list of projects represents some of the major work completed or underway. But it only represents – it’s only representative of the numerous things ongoing within our organization.

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