Flybe, the biggest airline operating from Birmingham, has secured a massive $500 million loan to replace a quarter of its existing fleet.
The money will buy 20 new Embraer E175 regional jet aircraft which should be delivered between November 2011 and July 2014.
The new 88-seat aircraft will replace existing 78-seater planes, reducing the operating cost on each of the airline’s routes.
Flybe is planning to buy a further 15 new aircraft, many of which will replace jets in its current fleet of 83 planes.
The financing deal has been completed with the Brazilian Export Development Bank and follows Flybe’s announcement last year that it had signed a major aircraft deal with Embraer for up to 140 of their E-series aircraft.
Jim French, Flybe’s chairman and chief executive said the deal was “an important milestone for Flybe, sending out a very clear message that our business is in robust financial health.”
He added: “I suggest there will not be many European airlines signing this kind of a deal and I think it speaks volumes about flybe’s strong financial position.”
Chief financial officer Andrew Knuckley said the new aircraft would mean Flybe had a more balanced fleet thanks to the 10 extra seats per plan on the new aircraft.
The deal with the Brazilian bank was purely for the first delivery of 20 new aircraft but plans were already in place to secure the financing of the additional 15.