17 Nov 2013 12:00
• Branded operation to start following acquisition of 33.3 per cent stake in Swiss carrier Darwin Airline
• Etihad Regional to connect passengers from secondary markets into Etihad Airways’ European network and hubs of equity alliance partners
• Etihad Airways announces daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Zurich, complementing current daily service to Geneva
Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, today
announced a ‘step-change in global aviation,’ with the launch of its first branded
regional operation, after taking a 33.3 per cent stake in Swiss carrier Darwin
Following completion of the minority investment, which is subject to
regulatory approval, Darwin Airline will rebrand its operations as Etihad
Regional and align its network to connect passengers from secondary European markets
onto the main networks of Etihad Airways and its equity alliance partners.
Etihad Airways will also launch daily services on June 1,2014 from Abu
Dhabi to Zurich, which will become one of Darwin Airline’s main operating hubs.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer,
said:“This is a step-change for Etihad Airways.
With our new partner Darwin Airline, we are creating a unique approach
to network development for global airlines.
“European travellers will now be able to connect from a far, far wider
range of European towns and cities on Etihad-branded aircraft, through Abu
Dhabi to our destinations worldwide.
“We are also linking the new Etihad Regional network into the key hubs
of our equity alliance partners, bringing benefits to the customers of
airberlin and Air Serbia.
“This is not just a great new offer for European travellers. It is also
great news for Darwin Airline, which will see increased investment, greater
sales and marketing opportunities, and the chance to benefit from Etihad
Airways’ global network.”
Mr Hogan said the new approach could be extended to other markets over
“This new model is one that can bring the Etihad badge of quality to air
travellers around the world,” he said.
“In just a decade, we have established the Etihad brand as one of the
most recognised and most highly regarded in aviation. This model offers a new direction for that
brand in future.”
Darwin Airline is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with its major
hub in Geneva.It currently offers scheduled flights to21 destinations in Europeusing
a fleet of 10 50-seat Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft.
Subject to regulatory approvals, Etihad Airways will invest in Darwin
Airline through the acquisition of 33.3 per cent of an enlarged share capital. Darwin
Airline, which will continue to focus on secondary markets, will become the
seventh member of the Etihad Airways equity airline alliance, the fourth partner
in Europe, and the first to operate using a new sub-brand called ‘Etihad
The investmentwill give Etihad Airways access to regional markets in
Europe, and enable a major expansion of Darwin Airline’s operations.
The new ‘Etihad Regional’ logo will be displayed
prominently on each side of the fuselage of the Darwin Airline aircraft, while
the rear of the plane will carry the words “Operated by Darwin Airline”, and the
Darwin Airline’s present logo, as well as continuing to proudly display the
Swiss flag. All flights will continue to be operated under the Darwin Airline
By mid-2014, Darwin Airline will add 21 new routes and 18new
destinations. Its network will then includesixEuropean gateways served by
Etihad Airways – Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris, Düsseldorf, Belgradeand, commencing
in June, Zurich.
Darwin Airline will be able to connect to the network of airberlin,
Etihad Airways’ equity partner, through new and existing routes to Berlin,
Düsseldorf and Zurich. Berlin and Düsseldorf
provide excellent connections to the US with airberlin.
Darwin Airline will also be able to connect to the network of Air
Serbia, through its hub at Belgrade.
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways, airberlin and Air Serbia
will codeshare on Darwin Airline routes, while Darwin Airline will codeshare on
Etihad Airways, airberlin and Air Serbia flights from a range of European
gateways. This will provide deeper
access to Europe for the three larger carriers and significant new
international connectivity and feeder traffic for Darwin Airline.
Maurizio Merlo, Chief Executive Officer of Darwin Airline, believes the
Etihad Airways partnership will enable Darwin Airline to build upon its success
to date and enjoy significant growth, not only by providing a larger network
for customers within Europe but also greater access to Europe for travellers
from around the world.
He said: “We have built a solid position in regional markets across
Europe and through this partnership we can add another major dimension,
enabling our customers to access the global network of destinations offered by
Etihad Airways,while providing fresh options for overseas visitors to travel
through Europe on our flights.”
“This arrangement is new and exciting for both airlines and represents
fresh thinking in our industry. It also demonstrates clearly the strategy of
thinking globally and acting locally to benefit the customers of both
Darwin Airline’s expanded network, to be implemented in stages from
April 2014,will provide significant new opportunities for travellers to fly
between major regional centres in Europe and the global network of Etihad
Airways, via its hub in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE.
In April 2014, Darwin Airline will launch nine new
routes, from Dusseldorf to Berlin, Cambridge and London City; from Berlin to
Poznan and Wroclaw; from Geneva to Toulouse; from Zurich to Leipzig; and from
Rome to Tirana and Zagreb.
In May 2014, it will start flights from from Zurich
to Geneva, Florence and Turin; and from Geneva to Belgrade.
In June 2014, it will launch flights from Zurich to Linz, Graz, Verona
and Lyon; and from Geneva to Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes and Verona.
In addition to network and efficiency benefits, Darwin Airline will adopt
the Etihad Guest loyalty program.
Etihad Airways’ minority shareholdings include 29 per cent of airberlin,
40 per cent of Air Seychelles, 19.9 per cent of Virgin Australia and 3 per cent
of Aer Lingus. Etihad Airways has also received regulatory approval to acquire
24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways, and from January 2014, will acquire 49 per
cent of Air Serbia.