AIRLINE Flybe says it will cut fewer jobs than expected as it gets rid of unprofitable routes and surplus aircraft.

The group says it has reduced the number of positions it will axe to about 450, with up to 60 compulsory redundancies.

Last year, Flybe said it wanted to cut 500 jobs and confirmed the closure of six regional bases, including at Newcastle International Airport.

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The firm revealed plans for 17 redundancies at the Newcastle operation, with further closures at Inverness, Aberdeen, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, though it will continue to fly to the airports.

Flybe operates seven services from Newcastle and carries 200,000 passengers a year.

The heaviest job losses will be at Flybe's headquarters in Exeter, where more than 100 face the axe.

The company has already discontinued 30 unprofitable routes for this summer as part of its restructuring drive, and by the end of the season will have grounded 14 aircraft.

Saad Hammad, chief executive, said the airline was on target to make £40m annual savings by the end of March.

He said: “Taking decisive action gives us a strong platform to achieve profitable growth and build sustainable value for shareholders, and we are well on our way to becoming Europe's best local airline.”

Its third quarter trading saw total revenues for its UK airline business stand at £137.6m, with passenger numbers growing by 9.2 per cent to 1.9 million.