Flybe to cut fleet to 70 aircraft by 2020

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Flybe has announced plans to cut its fleet to 70 aircraft by 2020 after a comprehensive review of regional operations.

Flybe Group concluded that the Bombardier Q400 is the best core aircraft for its current and future needs, with the aircraft set to remain as the backbone of the Flybe fleet for the foreseeable future.

Over the last twelve months, the airline has handed back six older end-of-lease Q400s, with a further planned handback of all nine Embraer 195 jets. The overall fleet is well on its way to reducing in size from 85 at its peak in May 2017 to a target of around 70 aircraft by early 2020.

Flybe will continue to operate a number of Embraer E175 jets for longer or busier routes.

The move to reduce its fleet comes as result of a strategy to concentrate on profitable routes only and operate demand-driven services.

Demand-driven growth

Flybe chief executive, Christine Ourmières-Widener, said: “Flybe’s strategy is to reduce the fleet size to an optimum level and make the business demand-driven rather than capacity-led.

Our fleet configuration is an important part of that strategy. We examined exhaustively all the options and concluded the Bombardier Q400 is the best core aircraft for us. Its superior economy, speed and quietness is ideal for a regional airline such as ourselves.

Together with a number of Embraer E175s, our future fleet will be the optimum required for our specific regional route network.”

Flybe still has a heritage order for four E175s due in 2019. These will be delivered with new ‘winglet technology’ to help reduce fuel consumption.

The airline has accordingly concluded that it will retain its remaining Q400 aircraft and, where economic, extend their service lives. This will save considerable capital expenditure over the next few years, by avoiding the requirement to acquire new aircraft.

Flybe’s Q400 fleet remains a relatively young one, with an average age of just over ten years.