Flybe to cut fleet as part of restructuring plan

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UK regional carrier Flybe's restructuring programme will involve reducing the fleet by seven aircraft compared with its previous growth plans.

The airline, which operates Bombardier Q400s and Embraer regional jets, is to sell four owned aircraft - it has yet to disclose the types involved.

Two of these sales, it says, have already been contracted "at prices above book value".

It will also remove growth aircraft planned for 2013-14. Overall, says the company, the operating fleet will be reduced in 2013-14 by seven aircraft compared with Flybe's previous fleet plan.

The company says this will remove £70 million ($110 million) of "commercial revenue risk" per year.

Flybe detailed the fleet changes as it disclosed that it would cut 300 personnel from its UK operation as part of the restructuring.

Chief executive Jim French says the company has tried to avoid the cuts, the first time in 30 years it has had to resort to such action. But he says the move is necessary because any "significant change" to the UK economy, or "rebalancing" of air passenger duty, are still "some way off".

He says the company also needs to take advantage of the rapidly-growing contract-flying market in Europe and "fully exploit the leadership position we have created".

Flybe is to implement cost-reduction plans with other suppliers, including airports and maintenance providers, but says it does not expect to close any of its 13 UK bases. It will, however, carry out a "thorough review" of its network in the second stage of its turnaround plan.