Posted on: 16 January 2014 by Mark Howells
Swiss-based Etihad Regional has been officially launched at a ceremony in Zurich, the new carrier having been established in partnership between Etihad Airways and Darwin Airline, which will carry out flight operations.
The first aircraft to feature Etihad Regional’s branding, a Saab 2000, and new cabin interiors and crew uniforms were showcased for the first time to during the ceremony. The new livery will adorn all 10 aircraft in the fleet by the end of June 2014.
James Hogan, president and CEO 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,” he remarked. “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% 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.
Darwin Airline CEO Maurizio Merlo, commented, “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 2000s. By mid-2014, this will more than double to 34 destinations including: Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, London City, Berlin, Poznan, Wroclaw, Zurich, Toulouse, Tirana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Turin, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Linz, Graz, Lyon and Verona.
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.
In addition to network and efficiency benefits, Darwin Airline will adopt the Etihad Guest loyalty programme with full earn and burn rights.
Photo shows (l-r) Hasan Saleh Al Hammadi, Etihad Airways’ senior vice-president executive affairs; Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ chief commercial officer; HE Mohammed Atiq Al Rumaithi, UAE Ambassador to Switzerland; James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and CEO; Maurizio Merlo, CEO, Darwin Airline; Abdul Qader Hussein Ahmed, Etihad Airways’ vice-president government and international affairs.