Flybe has reaffirmed its commitment to the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 after outlining its future fleet plans. The Exeter-based regional carrier confirmed on May 16 it had completed “a comprehensive review of regional aircraft options”, concluding the Canadian-built turboprop “is the best core aircraft for its current and future needs. It will therefore remain as the backbone of the Flybe fleet for the foreseeable future.”
The airline cited the aircraft’s “excellent operating economics”, “small noise footprint” and its performance, which Flybe said is “close to jet aircraft over the relatively short sectors that we operate.”
It added that its Q400 fleet is relatively young, with an average age of just over 10 years. “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 did, however, outline its intention to reduce its overall fleet and further consolidate its network around profitable routes. The regional carrier has returned six older end-of-lease Q400s to lessors over the last 12 months, and will withdraw all nine of its Embraer 195s, reducing its fleet size from 85 at its peak in May 2017 to around 70 by early 2020.
Significantly, it will retain its smaller E175s and plans to take delivery of the four outstanding examples it has on order. Deliveries of the incoming E-Jets, which will be equipped with “new winglet technology”, are expected next year.
Flybe CEO, 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.”
Responding, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer remarked: “We are delighted that Flybe, our long-term customer and largest Q400 operator, remains committed to the Q400 as its preferred turboprop. With its jet-like performance, industry-leading reliability and unbeatable economics, we are glad that the Q400 turboprop will continue to support Flybe as the airline further imposes itself as one of Europe’s leading regional providers.”
John Slattery, president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation added: “Flybe’s commitment to the E175 as its regional jet of choice is a great endorsement of the type as a key part of its wider fleet. Now, introducing in its fleet the most updated version of the E175 with lower fuel burn, Flybe will enjoy even greater operating economics on their jet-service routes. We are looking forward to continuing to support and work with Flybe in the future.”