Regional carrier Flybe has confirmed it is to return all of its Embraer 195 jets, as part of plans to reduce the size of its fleet.

The airline said that a review had concluded that the Bombardier Q400 – which already makes up the bulk of Flybe’s fleet – “is the best core aircraft for its current and future needs”.

The carrier says it will return all nine of its leased E195 aircraft by 2020, but will continue to operate the smaller E175 on longer and busier routes. Indeed Flybe will take delivery of four new E175s fitted with winglets in 2019.

The airline said that as part of its strategy “to reduce its overall fleet and to concentrate on profitable routes only”, it will slimline its fleet numbers from a peak of 85 aircraft in May 2017, to “around 70” by early 2020.

In a statement Flybe said that the Q400 turboprop would remain as the backbone of its fleet “for the foreseeable future”, extending their service lives “where economic”.

“The Q400 is faster than the alternative turboprops, with a performance close to jet aircraft over the relatively short sectors that Flybe operates,” the carrier said.

“In addition, with excellent operating economics including turboprop fuel efficiency, it is cheaper to operate than similar-sized jet aircraft, and has a much smaller noise footprint.”