Flybe completes fleet redeployment

Flybe says it has resolved its last major legacy issue through the redeployment of all its remaining surplus Embraer 195 aircraft, thereby bringing the process, known as Project Blackbird, to a close.

Of the original fleet of 14 E195s, Flybe had previously announced solutions for eight. Five were returned to lessors; two have been based at Cardiff Airport as part of a long-term agreement with the airport operators, Cardiff Airport Limited, flying to a mix of destinations across UK and Mainland Europe; and one is now based at Exeter, under a long term agreement with Regional & City Airports, to serve Exeter and Norwich Airports with eight routes to five destinations in mainland Europe starting in March 2016.

The final elements of the E195 redeployment, scheduled to start from March 2016, will see: one aircraft replace a Q400 at Newquay under a redefined Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement with Cornwall Council to satisfy increased demand on the Newquay–London Gatwick route already operated by Flybe; two E195s based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport to provide much needed regional connectivity to the people of South Yorkshire and the surrounding area; and three aircraft operating from Birmingham and Manchester Airports, two providing additional capacity on high load factor routes and the third providing E-Jet standby cover across Flybe’s network.

The completion of Project Blackbird delivers a £40 million mitigation versus Flybe’s previously indicated obligation of £80 million over the remaining term of the aircraft leases. Flybe currently anticipates that the financial cost of resolving the remaining E195s will be £20 million this year, reducing to around £10 million next year, and then to £6 million in 2017 and £4 million in 2018.

“These arrangements are a superb result for all Flybe stakeholders,” declared Flybe’s CEO Saad Hammad. “They avoid the need for any upfront payment, enhance UK regional connectivity and have mitigated exposures to Flybe. With the last of our major legacy issues behind us, we can now focus all our attention on becoming a world-class regional airline.”

Commenting on his airport’s new deal with Flybe, Steve Gill, managing director of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said, “This is a transformational announcement which brings massively enhanced connectivity to the Sheffield City region’s airport. Doncaster Sheffield Airport is already the fastest growing airport outside of London. These two new aircraft will make available half a million new flight seats and are expected to grow our passenger traffic by around 30%. This news comes just a few months before the new motorway link road opens which will enhance the airport’s catchment area with journey times to the airport reducing by 20 minutes.”

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