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02 Apr 2015 13:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today welcomed the decision of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) to approve the airline’s 33.3 per cent investment in the Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline. 

Since January, 2014, Lugano-based Darwin Airline has operated as Etihad Regional under a brand and partnership agreement with Etihad Airways. FOCA’s approval of the Etihad Airways investment now enables the two companies to leverage fully the benefits of their partnership, including codesharing on each other’s flights within and beyond Europe.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said the investment was in line with the growing trend of consolidation in the airline industry, to ensure the continuation of viable, reliable and stable air services, and to maximise flight connectivity.

Mr Hogan said approval of the investment would enable Etihad Airways and Darwin Airline to work together more closely for the benefit of air travellers in Switzerland, across Europe, and beyond.

But he expressed disappointment that some opportunities for Etihad Airways and Etihad Regional had been diminished or lost because of the length of the regulatory review process, which prevented the introduction of important codeshare services designed to link and strengthen the networks of the two airlines.

“Because of the time taken to approve this partnership, and intense competition during this period, Etihad Regional has been forced to reduce or withdraw services on a number of routes, which were launched on the expectation that they would be supported by traffic flowing between the Etihad Airways global network and the Etihad Regional network in Europe,” Mr Hogan said.

“Once formalities are completed to activate the investment, Etihad Regional will have much greater connectivity, not only with Etihad Airways but also with its other partners in Europe, including Alitalia, airberlin and Air Serbia.”