Based in Exeter in southwest England, Flybe employs about 2,000 people, carries around eight million passengers annually and flies to 170 destinations around Europe

London (AFP) - The UK government and Britain’s troubled Flybe airlines have reached an agreement to keep the budget carrier operating, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said Tuesday.

“Delighted that we have reached agreement with Flybe’s shareholders to keep the company operating, ensuring that UK regions remain connected,” Leadsom said on Twitter.

“This will be welcome news for Flybe’s staff, customers and creditors and we will continue the hard work to ensure a sustainable future.”

Leadsom provided no details of the deal.

Based in Exeter in southwest England, Flybe employs about 2,000 people and is owned by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic.

It carries around eight million passengers annually and flies to 170 destinations around Europe from its British hubs.

The loss-making carrier was a year ago bought by the Connect Airways consortium, which also includes infrastructure specialist Stobart and investment firm Cyrus.

However, Flybe has since failed to recover in the face of weak consumer demand, fierce competition and a slowdown in Britain’s economy as it faces Brexit.

Smaller airlines are also more exposed to volatile fuel costs and a struggling pound than their larger rivals.

Flybe was in danger of becoming the second British airline to do halt operations in the last four months, after the demise of holiday giant Thomas Cook in September.

Last February, British regional airline flybmi also went bankrupt, blaming high costs and Brexit turmoil.

Flybe is the main carrier operating in several smaller British cities, including Exeter and Southampton in the southwest and south.

Lawmaker Stephen Farry, who serves a constituency in Northern Ireland, said he feared that if Flybe disappears it would hit connectivity between the province and Britain and he would be taking the matter up with the UK’s Department for Business.