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Darwin Airline, operating under the brand name Etihad Regional since January 2014, is a Swiss regional airline with its head office on the grounds of Lugano Airport in Agno, Switzerland, near Lugano.
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.
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.
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.
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. These services were suspended in early 2014 due to low demand.
Cooperation with Etihad Airways
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". 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.
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. 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.
In February 2014 Etihad Regional cancelled the planned routes from Berlin to Poznan and Wroclaw, 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.
Etihad Regional served the following destinations as of September 2014. Additionally, services between Lugano and Zurich were flown on behalf of Swiss International Air Lines until 30 October 2014.
- Biarritz – Biarritz – Anglet – Bayonne Airport [seasonal]
- Bordeaux – Bordeaux Airport
- Paris – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Toulouse – Toulouse–Blagnac Airport
- Bolzano - Bolzano Airport
- Cagliari – Cagliari-Elmas Airport [seasonal]
- Florence – Peretola Airport
- Olbia – Costa Smeralda Airport [seasonal]
- Pantelleria – Pantelleria Airport [seasonal]
- Rome – Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport
- Verona – Verona Villafranca Airport [seasonal]
As of September 2014, the Etihad Regional fleet includes the following aircraft:
- "Contatti." Darwin Airline. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 71.
- "Switzerland's Darwin to take over Baboo operations". Flight International. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
- Darwin Airline verbindet Leipzig mit Amsterdam und Paris
- "Etihad Suspends Cambridge Ops". Airliner World: 6. May 2014.
- , Etihad and Qatar Airways Enter New Territory, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 27 January 2014, p. 31
- Darwin Airlines perde due collegamenti
- L’Europa toglie due rotte alla Darwin
- Volo Aosta-Fiumicino, Darwin bocciata
- Darwin Airline - ETIHAD Regional Unveils Schedules for New Routes in S14
- "Swiss Aircraft Register". FOCA. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
Media related to Darwin Airline at Wikimedia Commons