Flybe now Europe's largest regional

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UK-based regional low-cost carrier Flybe has completed the purchase of former loss-making British Airways subsidiary BA Connect.

Flybe says the deal makes it the largest regional airline in Europe, with 152 routes from 22 UK and 34 European airports and an anticipated 10 million annual passengers. The deal excludes BA Connect's London City operation and its Manchester-New York service, which have been retained by BA.

Flybe says it is receiving £96 million ($187 million) from BA to help fund the transition and cover the inefficiencies of operating BA Connect's fleet of 50-seat regional jets, which will eventually be replaced with Bombardier Q400s and Embraer 195s. BA has placed its code on all 31 of the former BA Connect routes Flybe has taken over. It also has received a 15% stake in Flybe.

"The acquisition of BA Connect gives us critical mass across our city markets and, with valuable slots at congested European airports, brings our growth plans forward by two years," says Flybe chief executive Jim French.