Darwin Airline

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Etihad Regional
Darwin Airline
Logo Etihad Regional.png
Founded 2003
Secondary hubs
Frequent-flyer program Etihad Guest
Fleet size 13
Destinations 36
Company slogan Flying evolution
Headquarters Lugano, Switzerland
Website etihadregional.com

Darwin Airline, operating under the brand name Etihad Regional[1] since January 2014, is a Swiss regional airline with its head office on the grounds of Lugano Airport in Agno, Switzerland, near Lugano.[2]

It operates scheduled domestic services and international services to Italy, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its main bases are Lugano Airport and Geneva Airport.[3]


Early years[edit]

Darwin Airline was established on 12 August 2003 and operations started on 28 July 2004. By October 2013 it had grown to include 220 employees.[3]

On 25 November 2010, Darwin Airline announced its plans to take over some operating assets of Baboo by early 2011. Under the plan, some parts of the combined airline would continue to be marketed under the Baboo name, while Darwin would be able to substantially expand their operations.[4]

On 2 September 2013, Darwin Airline opened a base at Cambridge with flights to Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Milan Malpensa and its Geneva base using Saab 2000 aircraft.[5] These services were suspended in early 2014 due to low demand.[6]

Cooperation with Etihad Airways[edit]

On 17 November 2013, Etihad Airways announced that it had bought a one-third stake in Darwin Airline. Following completion of the deal, Darwin will use the new brand name Etihad Regional but Darwin will continue to operate as normal and will operate flights for Etihad Regional and the new brand will have the subtitle "operated by Darwin Airline".[7] The first Darwin aircraft featuring the Etihad Regional livery began operating between Lugano and Geneva on 17 January 2014; the airline announced that all ten of the Saab 2000 aircraft would be repainted in Etihad livery by the end of June 2014. The four ATR 72-500's leased to Etihad Regional will be also painted in the new livery as soon as they arrive to the company.[8]

In early 2014, Etihad Regional leased four ATR 72-500's from Nordic Aviation Capital in order to expand routes from Geneva.[6]

Starting from end of March 2014, the airline withdrew its Ancona-Roma Fiumicino and Trapani-Roma Fiumicino routes, as a result of the cabotage restrictions, which prevents Swiss aviation companies from operating domestic flights in the European Union. It was previously possible for Darwin Airline to fly these routes thanks to a derogation from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, however, this has not been renewed.[9][10] In January 2014, Darwin Airline also withdrew its Aosta-Roma Fiumicino route even before it had commenced; a result of the same cabotage and the European Union's refusal to give an exception for a Swiss company.[11]

In February 2014 Etihad Regional cancelled the planned routes from Berlin to Poznan and Wroclaw,[12] as well as the Zagreb-Rome route. By October 2014, several more destinations like Lyon, Turin, and Stuttgart have also been cancelled. In January 2015, it has been reported that Etihad Regional faces harsh competition by Swiss International Air Lines however It was stated that there aren't plans by Etihad Airways to cancel the proposed buy of a higher stake in Darwin Airline as suggested by some sources.[13]


A Darwin Airline Saab 2000 taxiing at Geneva International Airport
A Darwin Airline ATR 72 in the new Etihad Regional-Livery at Geneva International Airport
Interior of a Darwin Airline Saab 2000

Etihad Regional served the following destinations as of September 2014.[14] Additionally, services between Lugano and Zurich were flown on behalf of Swiss International Air Lines until 30 October 2014.

United Kingdom


A Darwin Airline Saab 2000

As of September 2014, the Etihad Regional fleet includes the following aircraft:[18]

Darwin Airline Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Passengers
ATR 72-500 4 1 72
Saab 2000 9 1 50
Total 13 2


External links[edit]

Media related to Darwin Airline at Wikimedia Commons