Etihad Airways has launched its first branded regional venture after acquiring a 33.3% stake in Swiss carrier Darwin Airline.
Darwin, which has flights from Cambridge Airport amongst others, will rebrand its operations to Etihad Regional under the deal and will align its network with Etihad’s main connections and partners.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad said the move was a ‘step change in global aviation’ as it continues to expand its partnerships.
“This is a step-change for Etihad Airways. With our new partner Darwin Airline, we are creating a unique approach to network development for global airlines. European travellers will now be able to connect from a far, far wider range of European towns and cities on Etihad-branded aircraft, through Abu Dhabi to our destinations worldwide,” he said.
“We are also linking the new Etihad Regional network into the key hubs of our equity alliance partners, bringing benefits to the customers of airberlin and Air Serbia.
“This is not just a great new offer for European travellers. It is also great news for Darwin Airline, which will see increased investment, greater sales and marketing opportunities, and the chance to benefit from Etihad Airways’ global network,” he added.
Under the agreement the routes will operate under an ‘Etihad Regional’ logo with ‘Operated by Darwin Airline’ on the rear of the aircraft. Plans are also in place for Etihad, airberlin and Air Serbia to codeshare on some Darwin routes.
In 2014 Darwin will launch several routes includes Cambridge and London City to Dusseldorf.
Hogan said the model could be introduced to other markets.