Pinnacle to remove owned CRJ900s by May

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ExpressJet and SkyWest Airlines have begun taking delivery of the 16 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft that Pinnacle Airlines is releasing from its fleet, and plans to finish acquiring the aircraft by May, said the carrier.

Pinnacle Airlines owned the 16 CRJ900s but is removing them from its fleet to reflect an amended capacity purchase agreement that expires in May 2013. The airline wrote down the value of the 76-seat aircraft with financier EDC in September 2012, prompting a one-time restructuring charge of $72.5 million.

ExpressJet and SkyWest started taking deliveries of the aircraft in December, says Mike Kraupp, chief financial officer of the regional airlines' parent company SkyWest Inc.

Flightglobal first learned that the carriers would be taking the aircraft in October 2012, and Kraupp had said that a majority of the aircraft would be based out of Atlanta, also home to ExpressJet's headquarters. The carrier will operate the aircraft under a flying agreement with Delta Air Lines that lasts until 2023.

Pinnacle is still operating 10 of the CRJ900ER aircraft out of the 16, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.

Pinnacle has also begun the process of marketing $43.7 million in assets that used to be operated by now-defunct Mesaba and expects to complete sales of the aircraft and related equipment in 2013. This includes 22 Saab 340B aircraft that Mesaba had flown along with $23.9 million worth of engines, rotables and inventory.

Pinnacle filed for bankruptcy on 1 April 2012 and will emerge from Chapter 11 as a Delta subsidiary. It will continue to fly 81 CRJ900s on behalf of Delta under a long-term fleet plan approved in bankruptcy court.