Flybe acquires batch of Q400s for London City services

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UK-based regional operator Flybe Group has acquired five Bombardier Q400 turboprops for its London City operation, which is set to start in October.

The company has disclosed the acquisition in a first-quarter interim statement.

Flybe says the second-hand aircraft have been purchased from “existing lessors”, and that the agreement lowers its aircraft ownership costs.

The operator says it is still pursuing “long-term solutions” for nine Embraer 195 regional jets which it has parked.

But it says that its cost and capacity strategy is being reflected in its trading performance for the first quarter which, it says, was “encouraging” and “in line with management expectations”.

UK revenues were down by 11% to £139 million ($236 million) as passenger numbers declined. But the company reduced UK seat capacity by 17% over the three months to 30 June, generating a nine-point rise in load factor to nearly 76%.

Flybe says it achieved a 16.6% reduction in total group costs, excluding items such as the cost of its parked Embraer 195s, and brought UK costs per seat down by 1.6%. It says a £24 million cost-saving plan for 2014-15 is “on track”.