Etihad Regional to feed Etihad, Air Berlin and Air Serbia networks
Etihad Airways yesterday announced its acquisition of a 33.3% stake in Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline. 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 Air Serbia and Air Berlin. Darwin Airline has a fleet of ten 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. Based in Geneva and Lugarno, the airline currently operates flights to Western Europe. Etihad Regional will shift its main operating hub to Zurich.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan announced that Etihad Regional’s new routes will include Belgrade and Zagreb. “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. We are also linking the new Etihad Regional network into the key hubs of our equity alliance partners, bringing benefits to the customers of Air Berlin 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.
By mid 2014, Darwin Airline will add 21 new routes and eighteen new destinations. Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways, Air Berlin and Air Serbia will codeshare on Darwin Airline routes, while Darwin Airline will codeshare on Etihad Airways, Air Berlin 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.
In April 2014, Etihad Regional will launch flights from Rome to Zagreb. The airline will face no direct competition on the route as Croatia Airlines operates its services to the Italian capital with stops in Dubrovnik and Split. In May, the airline will inaugurate services from Geneva to Belgrade. There it will face stiff competition with both Swiss International Air Lines and easyJet launching flights between the two cities this winter.