Flybe has propelled itself into a whole new ballgame, following a "substantial" agreement with Embraer to purchase up to 140 88-seat E175 and E-family aircraft, with the first delivery (of the firm orders) scheduled for Sep-2011 through Mar-2017. The order comprises 35 (firm) E175 aircraft valued at USD1.3 billion, 65 options (USD2.3 billion) and 40 purchase rights (USD1.4 billion – making USD5 billion in total). The carrier says this "provides a platform for Flybe’s expansion into Continental Europe.” Having once been given little chance of success as a too-vaguely defined ‘hybrid’ airline, Flybe now claims to be Europe’s largest regional airline and the UK’s largest domestic airline with over 25% market share. It is now set to export a proven business model into continental western Europe. The big question is: as it pokes its nose above the radar, can Flybe sustain the inevitable added competition?
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