Regional carrier Flybe has announced it will stop using its Embraer jet aircraft at Cardiff, Doncaster, Exeter and Norwich in favour of its 78-seat Bombardier Q400s.

The aircraft swap is part of Flybe’s wider base review, which has seen the carrier reduce capacity on less popular routes in order to cut costs by returning its 118-seat Embraer 195s to lessors.

Flybe says yesterday’s flight cancellations were not related to the base changes.

CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener said yesterday that the airline had hoped to avoid job losses over the reductions.

The last jet flights at Exeter will be on 26 October, as Flybe will switch to the Bombardier twin-propeller aircraft for its winter 2019/20 schedule. Norwich will lose its jets from the same date, but Flybe says services operated by franchise partner Eastern Airways will not be affected.

In a blow to Cardiff and Doncaster, the airline says it will close its bases at the airports, which were established to service its jet operations, from the start of the winter schedule. However, it will still operate flights to and from the regional hubs using Q400s and crew from other bases.

Ourmieres-Widener said: “Our fleet reduction has always been core to improving our profitability. We are committed to assisting all our affected employees across the impacted Flybe bases. We remain fully committed to Exeter, Cardiff and Doncaster airports and will continue to offer a comprehensive choice of regional and European destinations operated by our 78-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft.”

Flybe was recently acquired by Connect Airways, led by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, after posting losses in 2017 and issuing a profit warning in October 2018.

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