When it comes to Flybe, you probably think of the former UK regional carrier’s large fleet of Dash 8 turboprops. Of course, the Exeter-based carrier also operated regional jets from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. However, as it turns out, these were not the only turbofan-powered aircraft to grace its fleet. This is the story of Flybe’s Boeing 737s.
Leased from Astraeus
The story of Flybe’s relationship with the Boeing 737 began in March 2005. This was when the airline received the first of five Boeing 737-300s on lease deals from Astraeus Airlines, according to ATDB.aero. This Crawley-based carrier was named after the Greek god of the dusk, and had commenced operations in 2002. It eventually folded in 2011.
The registration of the aforementioned March 2005 arrival was G-STRE. This aircraft was soon followed by four more of its Astraeus classmates, with the next being G-STRJ in April 2005. A month later, Astraeus leased two more 737-300s to Flybe. These arrived at their temporary new home on May 11th (G-STRI) and 18th (G-STRB) that year.
The final 737-300 to join Flybe on a lease deal from Astraeus was G-STRA. Built in February 1988, this aircraft was already nearly 17 years old when it joined the Exeter-based regional carrier in December 2005. With that, Flybe’s 737 fleet was complete.
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All gone by 2006
In truth, the novelty of Flybe having Boeing 737s in its fleet only proved to be a short-term reality. Much like how all five 737s had joined the airline in 2005, four also departed Flybe in the same year as each other. They did so in October and November in 2006. However, the first of Flybe’s 737-300s actually left the airline to Astraeus in December 2005.
This particular example was G-STRB, which had only spent seven months at the Exeter-based regional carrier. Of the 2006 departures, G-STRE was the first to go, leaving October 11th that year. G-STRJ followed less than three weeks later, on October 31st. By November 1st, 2006, both of Flybe’s remaining two 737-300s had left the airline.
Life after Flybe
Of course, departing Flybe to go back to Astraeus by no means signaled the end of these aircraft’s careers. For example, G-STRA spent another decade in the skies before ending its service life at Swazi Airways in 2016. Meanwhile, G-STRI lasted until 2014 before being destroyed in Karachi, Pakistan, after repairs were abandoned.
As for G-STRJ, this aircraft is presently sitting in Knock, Ireland, where it has laid derelict since 2014 after serving various carriers. G-STRE had one of the longest careers of this cohort, serving carriers including Estonian Air and Jet2 before being stored at Leeds Bradford last year. The fifth and final ex-Flybe 737 is actually still active, and flies for Mexican cargo carrier TUM AeroCarga following a freighter conversion in 2006.
Were you aware of Flybe’s brief period of Boeing 737 operations? Perhaps you even flew on one of the aircraft yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!