UK regional carrier Flybe had made a significant step towards resolving its legacy fleet commitments and securing the right aircraft for its future development with a set of linked agreements with US carrier Republic Airways Holdings and Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, which will see it drop the majority of its outstanding orders for the E175 in favour of leasing additional Dash 8-Q400 turboprops.
In July 2010, Flybe announced a $1.3 billion firm order with Embraer for thirty five Embraer E175 88-seat regional jets, with deliveries originally scheduled to complete by March 2017. To date, eleven of these aircraft have been delivered to Flybe and last year the deliveries of the remaining twenty four were rescheduled to a four-year period from October 2015. Flybe has now agreed to terminate the contract for twenty of this aircraft and defer delivery of the four remaining E175s until 2018, in line with Flybe current fleet planning needs.
This capacity will be filled with the arrival of twenty four 71-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft which will be sub-leased from Republic, with deliveries commencing in March 2015 and spread over a two year period. In a seperate transaction, but related indirectly to the deal, Republic has placed an order for 50 more E175s from Embraer.
The Q400 aircraft being sub-leased by Flybe have an average age of 5.4 years and will have an average sub-lease period of 4.6 years at March 2015. Their delivery schedule fits Flybe's fleet replacement and growth profile as twenty one Bombardier Q400s from the existing Flybe fleet come to the end of their lease periods over the next four years.
Speaking at World Routes, an executive of the carrier told The HUB these agreements are in line with Flybe's strategy announced after the strategic review last year of flying thin regional routes, unservable by mainstream airlines with larger aircraft and seat capacity. "We now have the right-sized aircraft to support our regional growth, " he said. "We are committed to flying the right aircraft on the right routes."