Thursday, 24 May 2018

FlyBe to ditch E195's as it struggles to cut costs and focuses on profitable routes with the Q400

One of Europe's largest regional airlines, the UK based FlyBe, has been doing a lot of thinking recently regarding its fleet and has come to the conclusion that the Bombardier Q400 is the best core aircraft for both its current and future needs. 

The airline said it chose the Q400 because it is faster than any other alternative turboprops and its performance is close to that of a jet aircraft over the relatively short sectors that Flybe operates. The carrier also rates the aircraft highly for the operating economics, fuel efficiency and lack of noise.

Part of the fleet reevaluation at FlyBe will see the carrier hand back all of its Embraer 195 jets, of which the airline has nine currently. although it will retrain the 175 aircraft and continue with its outstanding order for four of that type which are due in 2019.  These new aircraft will be delivered with new ‘winglet technology’ to help reduce fuel consumption. Apart from these, Flybe is not going to be ordering any new aircraft for the foreseeable future. It had tried to cancel the four remaining E175 aircraft but was already financially committed to them. 

Flybe’s stated strategy is to reduce its overall fleet and to concentrate on profitable routes only, therefore in the last 12 months its got rid of six older Q400s where the leases were up for renewal.  According to the plan, FlyBe will reduce the number of aircraft in its total fleet from 85 to 70 aircraft by early 2020.

The airline plans to cut costs by extending the working life of its Q400's, which have an average age of 10 years, through maintenance and refits.  still has a heritage order for four Embraer E175s due in 2019. 

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.”

Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft added: “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 & CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation commented: “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.”

The airline recently extended its winter 2018/19 season.
Key Highlights of Flybe’s 2018-19 Winter schedule -
-  Up to 2,695 flights a week
- Total of 125 routes including Doncaster Sheffield to Belfast City operating for the first time in winter
-  Up to 7 flights a day on following routes: Birmingham-Amsterdam; Birmingham – Glasgow; Belfast City –
     Manchester; Belfast City – Birmingham: Edinburgh – Birmingham   
- 14 Winter Ski routes: Chambery from Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Manchester and Southampton
                                        Geneva from Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Isle of Man, Jersey and Southampton
                                         Innsbruck from Manchester
                                         Lyon from Birmingham and Manchester
-   8 Winter Sun routes:  Alicante from Doncaster Sheffield, Exeter, Norwich and Southampton
                                        Faro from Cardiff and expanded schedule from Exeter
                                        Malaga from Norwich and Exeter
-   Improved weekend schedule on key routes from Exeter with later Sunday returns from Amsterdam,
     Jersey, Guernsey and Manchester and return of weekend flights to Norwich
-  Return of popular Christmas and New Year flights from Southampton to regional France – Limoges, 
    Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Nantes and Rennes; and full Winter schedule to Bergerac
-   Return of popular Christmas and New Year service between Birmingham – Newquay;
    and extra seasonal frequency on many routes including Exeter-Glasgow, Belfast City, Dublin and