SWISS-BASED ETIHAD REGIONAL LAUNCHED IN SWITZERLAND
First Etihad Regional-branded aircraft unveiled in Zurich
- Expanded network with 34 destinations offers more choice for travellers
- Increased feeder traffic into Switzerland promotes tourism and job creation
Swiss-based airline Etihad Regional was launched in Zurich today heralding a new era of improved regional and international connections for travellers in Europe.
Established in partnership with UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways, the new carrier will be operated by Switzerland’s Darwin Airline, which is headquartered in Lugano with a major hub in Geneva.
The first aircraft to feature Etihad Regional’s branding, a 50-seat Saab 2000, and new cabin interiors and crew uniforms were showcased for the first time to international media at Zurich Airport, alongside an Etihad Airways Airbus A330-300 aircraft. In the evening VIP guests attended a reception at the Dolder Grand Hotel.
The new livery will adorn all 10 aircraft in the fleet by the end of June 2014.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, explained that the strategy behind Etihad Regional was to build strong regional airline partnerships around the world.
“Etihad Regional will provide a unique opportunity to strengthen vitally important regional networks and connect them to the rapidly expanding global network of Etihad Airways.
“We will choose partners, as we have done with Darwin Airline, which share our passion for delivering an outstanding service to travellers, with greater choice and more convenience.”
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will acquire a 33.3 per cent stake in Darwin Airline as part of its equity airline alliance strategy. Darwin Airline will become the seventh member of the international alliance and Etihad Airways’ fourth partner in Europe.
Maurizio Merlo, Chief Executive Officer of Darwin Airline, said: “Etihad Regional is good news for travellers and for Europe’s regional economies. We have a clear strategy and firm commitment to build a strong regional airline linking European cities and towns and provincial centres, which also connect to the broader global network of Etihad Airways.
“What makes Etihad Regional unique is the way Etihad Airways and its equity alliance partners, in particular airberlin and Air Serbia, can also feed passengers into the regional network.
“We expect that as Etihad Regional expands, it will be able to offer more direct employment locally, and further indirect employment opportunities in connecting regional markets.”
Etihad Regional, operated by Darwin Airline, currently offers year round flights to 15 destinations in Europe using a fleet of 10 Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft. By mid-2014, this will more than double to 34 destinations. (Refer Table 1)
With these additions, Etihad Regional’s network will include seven European gateways served by Etihad Airways: Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris, Düsseldorf, Belgrade, Zurich (commencing in June 2014) and Rome (commencing in July 2014).
Etihad Regional network will connect with airberlin in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Zurich, providing onward connectivity to destinations in Europe and North America.
The partnership also makes provision for a phased approach to introducing codeshare agreements, subject to regulatory approval. In phase one Etihad Airways will place its EY code on 16 routes operated by Darwin Airline. (Refer Table 2)
In addition to network and efficiency benefits, Darwin Airline will adopt the Etihad Guest loyalty program with full earn and burn rights.
Etihad Airways’ minority shareholdings also include 29 per cent of airberlin, 40 per cent of Air Seychelles, 19.9 per cent of Virgin Australia, 3 per cent of Aer Lingus and 24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways. The airline will acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia in January 2014.
Together, Etihad Airways and these seven airlines serve nearly 400 unique destinations with a fleet of more than 500 aircraft. In 2013, they carried a combined total of more than 80.5 million passengers – comparable to large airline partnerships in Europe.
Table 1. New non-stop routes
Etihad Regional, operated by Darwin Airline, to introduce:
- London City
Table 2. First phase codeshare agreements
Etihad Airways will, subject to regulatory approval, place its EY code on 16 routes operated by Darwin Airline:
- from Amsterdam and Paris to Cambridge
- from Dusseldorf to London City and Berlin
- from Geneva to Lugano, Cambridge, Rome, Stuttgart, Zurich, Valencia, Belgrade and Ibiza
- from Rome to Tirana and Geneva
- from Berlin to Poznan and Wroclaw
About Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2013 carried nearly 12 million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad Airways offers flights to 102 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, with a fleet of 89 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The airline has more than 220 aircraft on firm order, including 71 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 25 Boeing 777-X, 62 Airbus A350s, and 10 Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Etihad Airways also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus and Jet Airways. Subject to regulatory approvals, Etihad Airways will acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia and 33.3 per cent of Darwin Airline in Q1 2014. For more information, please visit: www.etihad.com
About Darwin Airline
Darwin Airline is a Swiss-based regional carrier founded in 2003 and serving a range of key secondary markets in Europe. The airline operates two-class flights with a fleet of ten 50-seat Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft to a network stretching from southern Italy to the UK. The airline’s major hub is the Swiss city of Geneva. For more information, please visit www.darwinairline.com.