Aer Arann has said it is extending its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus until 2022. This will see the airline operate under the Aer Lingus Regional brand until the end of that year.

The airline also announced plans to double its passenger numbers to over two million in five years and to join Europe's top tier of regional airlines by 2015.

In a statement today, Aer Arann said it has completed a successful restructuring of the airline, which has put it on a ''strong financial footing''.

As part of a ''new beginning'' at the airline, it said that it will add two new routes to its services this summer.

The new routes are from Dublin to Birmingham and Dublin to Manchester, which will increase its passenger numbers by 330,000 by the end of next year and bring the airline route network to 24.

It also announced plans to increase frequencies on its Dublin to Edinburgh and Glasgow routes.

Aer Arann said today it will take delivery of eight new planes, starting with the first in May.

The new planes, ATR 72-600s, will replace its older existing fleet of ATR 72-200s and ATR 42s. The new fleet will be fully operational in time for the summer 2014 programme, the airline said.

Sean Brogan, the airline's interim chief executive, said that Aer Arann now has the fundamentals to join Europe's top tier of regional airlines after facing closure just two years ago.

''The completion of our restructuring programme represents a new beginning for the airline. Our extended franchise agreement with Aer Lingus to 2022 gives us a firm foundation for growth, and the fleet renewal programme allows us to enhance the passenger offering further'', he added.