Bold Bonuses for Airline Executives Anger 3407 Families

April 4, 2012 Updated Apr 4, 2012 at 11:42 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

April 4, 2012 Updated Apr 4, 2012 at 11:42 PM EDT


Western New York's Congressional delegation fired off a letter directly to the chief operating officer of Pinnacle airlines Wednesday.

The letter claims the airline has failed to properly pay its employees for the past year and in some cases hasn't paid pilots at all.

But the company somehow found the money to approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay raises for top executives weeks before filing for bankruptcy on April 1st.

Lawmakers and loved ones of 3407 victims argue underpaid and fatigued pilots were to blame for the crash of flight 3407.

"My immediate reaction that came to mind is it's obscene," stated John Krausner, who lost his daughter in the crash.

Despite filing for bankruptcy the outgoing CEO Philip Trenary received a whopping $1.7 million severance check. The current CEO got a $250,000 pay raise,
and COO John Spanjers received a salary increase of $125,000.

Yet, the first officer of flight 3407 was only only paid an annual salary of $16,000.

Pinnacle's says increasing operating expenses is one reason for the bankruptcy.

The company sent us this statement,

"We don't have an immediate comment, but we will prepare a response to the members of the delegation who signed the letter."

"Their non response is understandable. How could they possibly justify, in the face of filing bankruptcy and not paying their pilots giving their CEO's and their officers that kind of money immediately prior to is again obscene and they can't justify it so they have to give you a non response," said Krausner.

Pinnacle is one of several companies being sued by family members of flight 3407 crash victims. Twenty-four of the 47 lawsuits filed against Pinnacle, Colgan Air and Continental remain unresolved.

An attorney tells Eyewitness News while the bankruptcy filing could delay the prosecution of the cases the victims would ultimately still get paid.