British carrier Flybe is to base three of its Bombardier Q400 aircraft at Helsinki from the end of October and operate them on Finnish domestic and trans-Baltic routes on behalf of Finnair.
Finnair says the move, which involves the two airlines signing a cooperation agreement, is aimed at strengthening Finnair’s domestic feed-traffic network. Flybe claims to be Europe’s largest regional airline.
Routes covered by the agreement include, among others, Finnair’s services from Helsinki to Tampere, Turku and Tallinn.
“We aim to strengthen our feeder operation on routes important for Finnair during the coming winter traffic season,” says Ville Iho, Finnair’s senior vice president for resources management. “Flybe is a respected UK operator with a modern fleet. Moreover, there will be Finnish cabin crews on all of the flights.”
The cooperation will begin at the end of October and will involve basing three of Flybe’s Bombardier Q400 aircraft at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The agreement also may be extended if necessary, according to Finnair.
“Flybe is highly suitable as a cooperation partner in our South and Central Finland traffic. The company’s fleet and production structure support the operation of short routes,” says Iho. “Expanding our cooperation base will give us flexibility to modify our feeder traffic network according to needs. Flybe is a potential partner as we strengthen our position on our home market in Scandinavia and in the Baltic Sea area.”
Headquartered in Exeter, Devon, Flybe was founded in 1979 (as Jersey European Airways) to operate regional flights between the Channel Islands and the mainland of Britain the UK, as well as neighbouring countries. The company has expanded its operations through acquisitions and substantial organic growth.
Flybe is harmonizing its fleet around two families of aircraft: Embraer E-Jets and Bombardier Q400 and Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft. The company operates more than 70 aircraft and is the largest operator of Bombardier Q400 turboprops in the world. It had ordered a total of 56 Q400s as of April 30, according to Bombardier. According to Wikipedia, Flybe has 58 Q400s in service and eight more on order.
At the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow Flybe announced orders and other commitments for up to 140 Embraer 175s to expand its fleet. Flybe also has an extensive air transport training centre and provides aviation technical services.