Darwin Airline

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Darwin Airline
Etihad Regional
Logo Etihad Regional.png
Founded 2003
Secondary hubs
Frequent-flyer program Etihad Guest
Fleet size 10
Destinations 30 (as Etihad Regional)[2]
Company slogan Flying evolution
Headquarters Lugano, Switzerland
Key people Emilio Martinenghi (President), Fabio Parini (Vice President/Legal Affairs), Maurizio Merlo (CEO/Accountable Manager), Christian Schneider (CCO)[3]
Employees 314 (October, 2014)[4]
Website etihadregional.com

Darwin Airline is a Swiss regional airline with its head office on the grounds of Lugano Airport in Agno, near Lugano.[5] It operates scheduled domestic and international services throughout several European countries using the brand name Etihad Regional[6] since January 2014 as well as on behalf of Air Berlin and Alitalia. Its bases are Geneva International Airport and Lugano Airport.[7]


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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] These services were suspended in early 2014 due to low demand.[10]

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".[11] 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.[12]

In early 2014, Etihad Regional leased four ATR 72-500's from Nordic Aviation Capital in order to expand routes from Geneva.[10]

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.[13][14] 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.[15]

Reduction of operations[edit]

In February 2014 Etihad Regional cancelled the planned routes from Berlin to Poznań and Wrocław,[16] as well as the Zagreb-Rome route. By October 2014, several more destinations like Lyon, Turin, and Stuttgart have also been cancelled. Additionally, services between Lugano and Zurich, which were flown on behalf of Swiss International Air Lines until 30 October 2014, were also terminated as Swiss cancelled the contract.

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.[17] However, by February 2015 the company cancelled more destinations like Linz and Toulouse and also announced to lay off a fifth of its staff.[18]

On 18 February 2015, Etihad Regional ceased two thirds of its scheduled routes without further notice, amongst them all services to Germany[19] and several to France.[20] The airline will continue to operate some of their domestic and European routes from Geneva and Lugano[21][19] as well as the Italian domestic service from Bolzano to Rome while all services to and from Zürich are cancelled immediately except the domestic service to Geneva.[20] Etihad Regional blamed the behavior of competitors as well as the Swiss aviation authorities for their failed expansion.[19]

On 11 March 2015, Darwin Airline confirmed to start operating some of their Saab 2000s on behalf of Air Berlin, on which Etihad Airways also holds shares, from April 2015.[22] On 29 March 2015, it has additionally been announced that Darwin Airline will operate all of its four ATR72 on several domestic routes for Alitalia, in which Etihad Airways also holds stakes in.[23]


Darwin Airline Saab 2000 wearing the airline's own livery
Interior of a Darwin Airline Saab 2000

Etihad Regional continues to serve the following destinations throughout the 2015 summer season as of 18 February 2015.[24]

Destinations operated as Etihad Regional[edit]


Destinations operated for Air Berlin[edit]

Czech Republic

Destinations operated for Alitalia[edit]



Darwin Airline ATR 72-500 wearing the Etihad Regional livery

As of May 2015, the Etihad Regional fleet includes the following aircraft:[28]

Darwin Airline Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Passengers Notes
ATR 72-500 4 72 operated for Alitalia
Saab 2000 6 50 4 operated as Etihad Regional, 2 operated for Air Berlin
Total 10


  1. ^ "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". iata.org. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  2. ^ https://www.etihadregional.com/en-us/about-us/company/
  3. ^ https://www.etihadregional.com/en-us/about-us/leadership/
  4. ^ http://www.etihad.com/Documents/PDFs/Corporate%20profile/Fast%20facts/Q4-2014-Eng.pdf
  5. ^ "Contatti." Darwin Airline. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  6. ^ http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-regional/news-detail/datum/2014/10/29/etihad-regional-reduziert-vie-drs.html
  7. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 71. 
  8. ^ "Switzerland's Darwin to take over Baboo operations". Flight International. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  9. ^ Darwin Airline verbindet Leipzig mit Amsterdam und Paris
  10. ^ a b "Etihad Suspends Cambridge Ops". Airliner World: 6. May 2014. 
  11. ^ http://gulfbusiness.com/2013/11/dubai-airshow-etihad-acquires-33-3-of-swiss-carrier-darwin/#.Uoni2uKynac
  12. ^ [1], Etihad and Qatar Airways Enter New Territory, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 27 January 2014, p. 31
  13. ^ Darwin Airlines perde due collegamenti
  14. ^ L’Europa toglie due rotte alla Darwin
  15. ^ Volo Aosta-Fiumicino, Darwin bocciata
  16. ^ http://ch-aviation.com/portal/news/25807-darwin-airline-shelves-berlin-tegel-route-launch-plans
  17. ^ http://www.arabianbusiness.com/etihad-regional-will-not-be-put-off-by-aggressive-actions-of-competitors-hogan-579312.html
  18. ^ http://www.aerotelegraph.com/etihad-regional-darwin-baut-fast-jede-fuenfte-stelle-ab
  19. ^ a b c http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-international/news-detail/datum/2015/02/18/etihad-regional-streicht-erneut-fluege.html
  20. ^ a b http://www.aerotelegraph.com/schweiz-etihad-regional-darwin-airline-rueckzug-zuerich-kuendigungen-swiss-beschwerde
  21. ^ https://www.etihadregional.com/en-us/flight-cancellation/
  22. ^ http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-international/news-detail/datum/2015/03/11/fix-air-berlin-setzt-auf-saab-2000.html
  23. ^ http://ch-aviation.com/portal/news/36312-alitalia-adds-new-domestic-links-with-darwin-atr72s
  24. ^ http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-international/news-detail/datum/2015/02/18/etihad-regional-streicht-erneut-fluege.html
  25. ^ a b c d http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-international/news-detail/datum/2015/03/11/fix-air-berlin-setzt-auf-saab-2000.html
  26. ^ http://www.austrianaviation.net/news-regional/news-detail/datum/2015/01/05/etihad-regional-stellt-bozen-rom-ein.html
  27. ^ a b c d e f http://ch-aviation.com/portal/news/36312-alitalia-adds-new-domestic-links-with-darwin-atr72s
  28. ^ http://ch-aviation.com/portal/airline/DWT#al_profile_tab_fleet

External links[edit]

Media related to Darwin Airline at Wikimedia Commons