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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will launch daily non-stop flights to Zurich, Switzerland from June 1, 2014. 

Through Zurich, the daily flight will connect with the route network of Etihad Airways' latest equity partner, Darwin Airline, which will be rebranded Etihad Regional.

Darwin Airline will provide connections between Zurich and eight new destinations–Leipzig, Florence, Graz, Linz, Lyon, Turin and Verona, as well as a new domestic service to Geneva.  The airline already operates domestic services between Geneva and Lugano.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Zurich will become Etihad Airways’ second Swiss destination after Geneva, and the route will be served by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a three-class configuration.*

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, a major financial centre, business hub and tourism destination, and has a catchment area of two million people.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said:  “Thanks to our new relationship with Darwin Airline, Zurich will become an important connection point for travellers into and out of Europe.

“Following nine years of successful operations to Geneva, our new route to one of the world’s most important financial and banking centres comes at a time when trade and leisure ties between the UAE, Switzerland and beyond are rapidly expanding.”

Swiss exports to the UAE were valued at US$3.45 billion in 2012, up 14 per cent on 2011, whilst exports from the UAE to Switzerland rose 11 per cent over the same period to US$600 million.

Mr Hogan added:  “Building on these growing bilateral ties, this route announcement will see Etihad Airways spread its European footprint, and at the same time, cement its presence in Switzerland at a crucial time in our growth strategy.

“The route will offer business and leisure customers an additional entry point to mainland Europe, and through our recent equity deal with Darwin Airline, enhanced access to key European regional destinations.

“In addition, airberlin will place its AB flight code on the new Abu Dhabi-Zurich service, where it will link in seamlessly with a number of their operations beyond Zurich to Germany and Spain.”

Demand for the new Etihad Airways Zurich service is forecast to be strong among the Swiss community in the UAE, which numbers more than 2,400 Swiss nationals and 300 Swiss companies.

A key benefit to travellers of the non-stop Abu Dhabi-Zurich service will be convenient flight arrival and departure times and network connectivity at each end.

Mr Hogan concluded:  “The new flight schedule will appeal to business and leisure travellers in both directions, as it optimally connects our existing services over Abu Dhabi with destinations in the GCC, Indian subcontinent, Asia and Australia, and with our partners’ services at Zurich to cities across Europe.”

*The aircraft will be configured with 8 seats in Diamond First Class, 32 in Pearl Business Class and 191 in Coral Economy Class.

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