After a review of its regional aircraft options, Flybe has concluded that the Bombardier Q400 is the best core aircraft for its current and future needs. The airline said it will therefore remain as the backbone of its fleet for the foreseeable future.
A Flybe statement said the Q400 is faster than the alternative turboprops, with a performance close to jet aircraft over the relatively short sectors that Flybe operates. In addition, with excellent operating economics including turboprop fuel efficiency, it is cheaper to operate than similar-sized jet aircraft, and has a much smaller noise footprint. Flybe will however continue to operate a number of Embraer E175 jets for longer or busier routes.
The airline’s stated strategy is to reduce its overall fleet and to concentrate on profitable routes only. In the past twelve months it 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 the way to reducing in size from 85 at its peak in May 2017, to a target of around 70 aircraft by early 2020.
Flybe’s Q400 fleet has an average age of just over ten years so it has 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 still has a heritage order for four Embraer E175s due in 2019. These will be delivered with new ‘winglet technology’ to help reduce fuel consumption. Apart from these, Flybe says it is not planning any additional new aircraft orders for the foreseeable future.