Flybe is exceeded forecast growth in Wales less than three years after establishing a new base at Cardiff airport.

The ten-year agreement signed in June 2015 included a forecast that 50 new jobs would be created to support two Embraer jets operating a doubling of routes, with 500,000 extra seats.

The regional airline now employs 62 staff at the airport and has created another 100 indirect jobs in ground handling and engineering support services.

The number will be boosted at the end of the month when a third aircraft arrives for the start of the summer schedule, with an additional 22 Cardiff-based crew needed.

Flybe operates 20 routes from Cardiff, up from an initial 11, with up to 75 return flights a week to seven countries.

This includes a fourth Italian route to Venice being served twice-weekly from March 27.

Chief strategy officer Vincent Hodder said: “The opening of our new Cardiff base three years ago marked an important milestone for Flybe.

“It extended our already established presence at Wales’ national airport. We have been pleased with our growth and expansion there to date and with the role we have played to stimulate further growth in the local economy.

“By offering customers an increasing selection of faster, convenient and more affordable options for air travel to and from Wales, customers are discovering it is far more convenient to travel to and from an airport that is close to them rather than drive hours to farther flung airports in England.

“Offering an attractive selection of destinations to and from local regional airports is our core business. The success of our growth at Cardiff also reflects our recent brand refresh that features the ‘Close to You’ strapline in our marketing messaging.

“It highlights the leading position and intent we have to continue providing unparalleled air travel to and from the regions. Our increased presence at Cardiff is perfect testament to this.”

Cardiff airport chief executive Deb Barber added: “The opening of Flybe’s base in 2015 played an important part in our journey of recovery and transformation.

“Since opening, the airline has expanded its choice of routes and added more capacity on existing services, in line with our passenger growth.

“Today, it’s a key employer in the area, supporting a number of direct and indirect roles, which will be boosted with the arrival of the third aircraft, adding real value to the local economy in South Wales.

“We enjoy a dynamic partnership with Flybe, based on collaboration and a shared vision to offer our customers a choice of destinations, offered at convenient times and priced competitively.

“As the national airport for Wales, we look forward to continuing this successful venture with Europe’s largest regional airline, and to promoting new and existing opportunities for our customers here in South Wales.”