Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) has approved plans by Swiss carrier Darwin Airline to extend its codeshare arrangement with Etihad Airways until the end of April 2022.
Lugano-based Darwin, which operates as Etihad Regional and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has a 33.3% stake, has a network of routes between secondary and tertiary points in Western Europe and funnels traffic into Etihad’s network at Geneva and Zurich.
As part of the agreement, Etihad Regional places its F7 flight code on Etihad Airways’ daily flights from Zurich and Geneva to Abu Dhabi. Etihad, in turn, places its EY code on Etihad Regional- operated flights between Geneva and Lugano, Zurich and Venice.
The Zurich and Geneva services also provide onward connections to points across Europe on the networks of Etihad’s European equity partners Alitalia, Air Serbia, airberlin and airberlin subsidiary Niki.
Etihad Regional CEO Maurizio Merlo called the approval a “significant development” that is “great for our business continuity as we continue to offer greater access from Switzerland to the Middle East and beyond. At the same time, it guarantees extended opportunities to boost local tourism in Ticino, Switzerland, through the Abu Dhabi- Lugano flight, via Geneva.”
FOCA initially took considerable time to approve Etihad’s stake in Darwin, expressing concern that, despite its minority stake, Etihad would effectively control the Swiss regional.