A new seasonal cross country air route between Norwich and Exeter will start before Easter.

The Flybe service is one of a number of new routes being supported by the government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund.

Flights will run daily, six days a week between March 24 and October 28 with one-way fares starting at £17.49.

The flight time of 70 minutes compares with journeys of between five and seven hours between the two cities by car or train, according to the airline’s chief revenue officer, Vincent Hodder.

Aviation minister, Robert Goodwill, said: “It is fantastic to see Flybe launch this new direct air service between Norwich and Exeter, offering significant journey time savings for passengers when it begins operations in time for Easter.

“Our smaller airports are vital engines for local economies, connecting the UK and opening up opportunities. That is why the government is backing new regional air routes to drive investment and boost growth across the country.”

Details of the new domestic route follows summer schedules already announced for Exeter and Norwich using of one of Flybe’s 118-seat Embraer 195 jets after an agreement was reached between the airline and the Rigby Group, which owns both airports.

Norwich airport general manager, Richard Pace, said: “We are also looking forward to the start in March of new flights to Alicante and Malaga through our partnership with Flybe.

“These year-round services mark the first time in almost a decade that Norwich has offered scheduled sunshine flights to Spain.”

Flybe’s summer schedule from Exeter covers 18 routes with up to 122 flights a week while Norwich has four routes offering up to 12 flights a week.