Europe’s Best Regional Airlines
Regional airlines across Europe fly some interesting aircraft and routes, usually connecting with the hubs of larger parent airlines, but sometimes in remoter places and smaller airport.
Here we look at some of Europe’s best regional airlines.
Widerøe is based at Bodø in northern Norway, but has bases throughout the country largely because of its intense network of domestic flights. Many of its routes are public service obligation services to remote communities and small airports. Widerøe’s fleet comprises all models of Dash 8, from the earlier de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 to the latest Bombardier Q400s. It also has Embraer E190-E2s on order.
Binter CanariasWith a headquarters in Gran Canaria, Binter operates regional routes throughout the Canary Islands and to nearby East African countries, Portugal and Cape Verde. It won the European Regional Airlines Association Airline of the Year in 2016. Binter has a close connection with Iberia, and also has a Cape Verde subsidiary. Its fleet comprises ATR 72 and Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.
Flybe is Europe’s largest independent regional airline. Its heritage dates back to the 1970s when founded as Jersey European. It later became British European, and has changed focus and aircraft types a number of times. Its main focus is within the UK, but offers flights across Europe and even recently opened a base in Dusseldorf. Flybe’s fleet is made up of Bombardier Q400s and Embraer 175/195 aircraft. A number of ATR 42s are flown on behalf of SAS.
Another Spanish regional airline. Air Nostrum is independent, yet operates mostly as Iberia Regional, flying feeder and short-haul services on behalf of the larger airline. It is based at Valencia Airport, but naturally has a large presence in Barcelona and Madrid. Its fleet comprises mostly CRJ and ATR 72 aircraft.
One of the smaller independent regional airlines in Europe, Aurigny is based at Alderney in the Channel Islands. Most of its services link Jersey and Guernsey with the UK mainland, and it also flies domestic hops between the islands. Its fleet ranges from the tiny BN Islander to the ATR 42, Dornier 228 and larger Embraer 195.
Wholly incorporated into its parent company, KLM Cityhopper is a feeder airliner operating regional connections out of Amsterdam to nearby countries. It has a particular presence in the UK, where the legacy of Air UK services are still flown. Retiring its fleet of Fokker 70s in 2017, KLM Cityhopper operates a mix of Embraer 175 and 190 aircraft.
CityJet is based in the Republic of Ireland, however it has a large presence in London City and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports due to its links with Air France. CityJet has a fleet of Avro RJ aircraft, and recently started taking delivery of Sukhoi S100 Superjets – the first airline in Western Europe to do so.
France’s largest regional airline HOP! operates on behalf of Air France, flying connections out of Paris and also regional and domestic flights. It is actually made up of three airlines – Britair, Airlinair and Regional. HOP! flies a mixed fleet of ATR 72, Embraer 145, 170 and 190, and Bombardier CRJ700 and 900 aircraft. Its main bases are Paris Orly and Lyon.
This German regional carrier is actually made up of Lufthansa CityLine and Air Dolomiti. It flies connections into parent Lufthansa’s main hubs, and also regional point-to-point services. Its fleet comprises Embraer 190/195 and Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.
A Swedish regional airline based at Stockholm Arlanda and operating many domestic routes throughout the country. It has the distinction of being the last airline to fly passenger services with the BAe ATP aircraft. It also flies Saab 340s.
Eastern has become quite a diverse airline. It was founded to take advantage of ferrying workers from regional airports around the UK to the oil industries in northern Scotland, which it is still heavily involved in today. However, it also now flies other commuter services, and even domestic routes within other countries. Based at Humberside Airport, Eastern Airways operates a fleet of Jetstream 41, Embraer 145 and 170, and Saab 2000 aircraft.
Successfully reinventing itself following the demise of its former parent, bmi British Midland, bmi Regional is now a strong regional airline operating a weird and wonderful collection of routes from bases in the UK and Germany, mostly on behalf of other carriers which it feeds passengers to. It still flies the same Embraer 135 and 145 aircraft from its previous incarnation, and retains the same livery.