EMBATTLED regional airline Flybe offered further signs it is steadying after moves to slash fares attracted more passengers.

The group said it flew six per cent more passengers in its fourth quarter to March 31 at 1.6 million, despite a four per cent reduction in capacity.

Bosses added it has already sold a fifth of seats for the summer season, up from 17 per cent a year earlier.

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Flybe has been axing jobs, closing regional bases and reviewing routes under a major cost-cutting programme to stem losses after slumping into the red by 23.2m amid higher fuel costs and a declining domestic market.

It is focusing on larger sites in its network, expanding its service from Birmingham, but is closing a base at Newcastle International Airport, with bosses previously warning there could be up to 17 redundancies at its North-East operation.

It is also closing sites at Inverness, Aberdeen, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

However, it will continue to fly at the airports.

The group said the new routes had seen better-than-expected demand so far, with more than 30 per cent of seats already sold for summer.