Recently launched Swiss-based airline Etihad Regional heralds a new era of improved regional and international connections for travelers in Europe, according to UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways.
Established in partnership with Etihad, the new carrier will be operated by Switzerland’s Darwin Airline, which is headquartered in Lugano with a major hub in Geneva.
Etihad Regional 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.
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will acquire a 33.3 percent 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.
The network of the new airline 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.
Etihad Airways’ minority shareholdings also include 29 percent of airberlin, 40 percent of Air Seychelles, 19.9 percent of Virgin Australia, 3 percent of Aer Lingus and 24 percent of India’s Jet Airways.
The airline will also acquire 49 percent of Air Serbia in January 2014.
Together, Etihad Airways and the 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.