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Pinnacle boosts executive salaries during financial restructuring

Pinnacle Airlines' top two executives have received big salary increases even as the regional carrier asks airline partners, vendors, banks and employee groups to make major concessions as part of a sweeping financial restructuring.

Chief executive Sean Menke's salary will increase 58.8% to $675,000, according to the carrier's filing today.

Meanwhile, chief operating officer John Spanjer's salary will increase 45.5% to $400,000, and he will also receive a promotion to executive vice president.

At the same time, Menke has agreed to not receive a cash award this year as part of a long-term incentive programme. Menke's executive bonus for fiscal 2012 will be calculated at his previous base salary of $425,000, the airline says.

The higher salaries were approved by Pinnacle's board to compensate both executives for a heavier workload.

Their responsibilities increased after the departure earlier this month of former chief financial officer Edward Christie, who has joined Spirit Airlines, Pinnacle sys.

Menke's duties also have been increased to officially include the carrier's ongoing restructuring efforts.

Pinnacle launched a major restructuring plan on 8 December. Bankruptcy protection could still prove to be a more attractive option, according to a filing in January.

The restructuring proposal has asked banks to reduce leases and interest rates on aircraft, airline partners to increase rates on capacity sharing agreements, and employee groups and vendors to accept reduced salaries and payments.

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