FOCA approves Etihad’s Darwin stake

Etihad Airways gets FOCA's approval for 33.3 per cent investment in the Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline.

Darwin Airline Etihad Airways FOCA James Hogan Maurizio Merlo

Etihad Airways gets Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) approval for 33.3 per cent investment in the Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline.

Since January 2014, Lugano-based Darwin Airline has operated as Etihad Regional under a brand and partnership agreement with Etihad Airways. FOCA’s approval of the Etihad Airways investment now enables the two companies to leverage fully the benefits of their partnership, including codesharing on each other’s flights within and beyond Europe.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said the investment was in line with the growing trend of consolidation in the airline industry to ensure the continuation of viable, reliable and stable air services, and to maximise flight connectivity. Nevertheless, Hogan expressed disappointment that opportunities for Etihad Airways and Etihad Regional diminished or were lost due to the long regulatory review process, “which prevented introduction of important codeshare services designed to link and strengthen the networks of the two airlines.”

Maurizio Merlo, CEO of Darwin Airline, said: “After our latest meeting held in February, we were confident that we could reach a positive outcome with FOCA approving our deal with Etihad Airways.”

“Since announcing our partnership with Etihad Airways, we focused all our efforts on cost reduction and on a new business strategy. We worked very closely with both Etihad Airways and FOCA to address the authority’s concerns about the viability of our company and to reassure the authorities that European regulations are respected in all our transaction with Etihad Airways. This partnership will provide us the financial stability for the long-term growth of our company, dispelling any market uncertainty”, added Merlo.