Stobart Air, formerly Aer Arann, will launch six new routes from Southend Airport as part of a new partnership deal with Flybe.

The agreement will see Stobart Air operate Flybe-branded aircraft on European routes from June. Details of the destinations including prices and frequencies will be announced in April.

The routes are expected to carry 100,000 passengers in 2014, rising to 200,000 next year.

The airline is part of the Stobart transport group which runs the large Eddie Stobart haulage firm.

Stobart Air’s interim chief executive Sean Brogan the airline has moved on to the next level as an airline, and aims to become a “specialist in franchise flying” and expand into new markets.

“Deals with Aer Lingus and now Flybe represents real progress in a short period of time,” said Broagn. “We have set a target of two million passengers by 2016 and believe this is achievable.”

The Flybe deal is Stobart Air’s second franchise flying partnership, following a 10-year agreement with Aer Lingus signed in 2012.

Stobart Air also announced it will create 50 new jobs as part of the agreement, bringing its total workforce to 420 people.

 Flybe CEO Saad Hammad, said: “Today’s news is further evidence of our commitment to providing true regional connectivity across the UK and Europe, and we look forward to unveiling a major programme of new base and route development over the coming months.”

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