|Etihad Regional marks quiet arrival into Pristina|
Swiss-based Etihad Regional, previously known as Darwin Airline, has launched five weekly flights from Zurich to Pristina. The regional carrier, partially owned by Etihad Airways (pending government approval), inaugurated the service last Friday without much fanfare or official acknowledgment. While tickets cannot be purchased via the airline’s website, nor is the city listed in its destination network, bookings can be made through local travel agents. Etihad Regional operates the new service each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with an ATR72 aircraft. Previously, Darwin Airline operated services between the two cities until the route was suspended earlier this year. Flights are scheduled to depart Zurich in the morning, while the return service from Pristina takes off just after midday.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Taci, announced the new service on his official Facebook page last Friday. “I have some good news from Pristina Airport. Starting today, one of the most prestigious airlines in the world, Etihad Regional, will offer new flights between Pristina and Zurich”, the Prime Minister said. He added, “This is good news for our compatriots living in Switzerland and for the development of Kosovo’s aviation industry. Not long ago, in a meeting with representatives from airlines operating to Pristina, I asked them to increase their flights to Kosovo, which is why we have provided an incentive scheme for new companies entering the market. The arrival of world renowned airlines to Kosovo will ensure higher quality service and cheaper fares for our citizens”.
Switzerland is Pristina Airport’s busiest market with Zurich the most popular destination served out of Kosovo in 2013. A total of 20.7% of all passengers using Pristina Airport last year were either heading to or arriving from the Swiss city. Etihad Regional faces direct competition on the route from Belair (not to be confused with Belle Air), Edelweiss Air and Helvetic Airways. Etihad Regional’s arrival comes as good news for Pristina Airport, which has seen its passenger numbers decline 18% in the first half of the year. Etihad Regional has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia. The airline operates flights from Geneva to Belgrade and has codeshare agreements in place with its equity alliance partner Air Serbia. The airline cancelled plans earlier this year to inaugurate flights from Rome to Zagreb.