Tax gains buoy Pinnacle’s quarterly profits

Washington DC
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US regional operator Pinnacle Airlines got a lift in it first quarter profits from nonrecurring items including a tax settlement that helped the carrier post a net income of $19 million.

Excluding those items Pinnacle's quarterly profits were $2.7 million versus a net income of $1.2 million a year ago.

The company's operating revenues grew from $204 million to $208 million as Pinnacle expanded its Bombardier CRJ900 and Q400 operations for Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines. Those gains were partially offset by the return of eight CRJ200s to partner Northwest Airlines.

Pinnacle's expenses for the quarter fell from $198 million to $191 million year-over-year as operating income grew from $6.8 million to $13.9 million.

Results for Pinnacle's Cogan Airways continue to improve as the carrier posted a $2.2 million operating income for the first quarter. Previously Pinnacle executives have said they expect Colgan to turn a profit in 2009 after initiating a turnaround plan in 2008 that includes a fleet rationalization, renegotiating essential air service contracts with the US government and eliminating 19-seat turboprops.

Pinnacle ended the first quarter with $58 million in cash, down from $69 million at the end of 2008.