Pinnacle Airlines CEO to step down as company files for bankruptcy

(WMC-TV) - The CEO of Pinnacle Airlines will step down as the airline filed for bankruptcy and fired employees.

Pinnacle Airlines CEO Sean Menke announced he will step down June 1.  He will be replaced by John Spanjers, the airline's current COO.

"Changes in management are always difficult in any organization," said Dr. John Gnuschke, Director of the Sparks Bureau of Economic Research Center for Manpower Studies with the University of Memphis.

Spanjers has been COO at Pinnacle Airlines since September 2011.

"If it weren't a planned transition, it wouldn't been much easier," said Gnuschke.  "The fact that it's not a planned transition makes it more difficult."

Pinnacle Airlines filed for bankruptcy April 3 after months of cutting costs and renegotiating contracts to avoid it.

"Bankruptcy is not a huge threat," said Gnuschke.  "It is a serious loss to the shareholders and can be a serious setback to the employees.  I think that's where the employees have an argument."

Since then, pilots who said they are not getting paid took action by picketing outside Pinnacle Airlines headquarters.

"They're concerned about their pay and they're concerned about their jobs in this marketplace and this economic environment," said Gnuschke.

Pinnacle does not expect the resignation to affect the timeline of its bankruptcy proceedings.

"Pinnacle Airlines will continue to operate," said Gnuschke.  "It'll continue to serve Memphis.  It'll give them time to negotiate better agreements with Delta Airlines and give them an operating cushion."

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