Darwin Airline

Darwin Airline
Adria Airways Switzerland
Adria Airways Logo Star.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded2003; 17 years ago (2003)
Ceased operations12 December 2017[2]
Fleet size10
Destinations16 (as Adria Airways Switzerland)[3]
Parent companyAdria Airways
HeadquartersLugano, Switzerland
Key peopleEmilio Martinenghi, President[4]
Employees314 (as of October 2014)[5]

Darwin Airline SA was[2] a Swiss regional airline with its head office in Bioggio, Lugano[6] flying under the brand name Adria Airways Switzerland.[7][8] It operated scheduled domestic and international services in some western European countries. It used the brand name Etihad Regional[9] from January 2014 to July 2017, when Etihad Airways sold its 33% stake to the owner of Adria Airways. It previously also operated flights on behalf of Alitalia. Its bases were Geneva Airport and Lugano Airport.[10]

In November 2017, the Swiss authorities suspended the airline's license for scheduled flights due to financial difficulties but allowed the wetlease operations to be continued.[11] On 12 December 2017, the airline was declared bankrupt and ceased all remaining operations after its license was voided, while some of their fleet was transferred to its owner Adria Airways; the Saab 2000 aircraft still operate scheduled services from Ljubljana Airport in the name of Adria Airways, with the aircraft still carrying the Adria Airways Switzerland livery.[2]


Early years[]

A former Baboo Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 in Darwin colors at Lugano Airport
Darwin Airline ATR 72-500 in former Etihad Regional livery

Darwin Airline was established on 12 August 2003 and operations started on 28 July 2004. By October 2013 it had 220 employees.[10]

On 25 November 2010, Darwin Airline announced its plans to take over some Baboo operating assets 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.[12]

At the time of the merger, Baboo had returned its fleet of three leased Embraer E-190 to their lessors and only the remaining two Bombardier DHC-8-Q400 were transferred to Darwin Airline to be used on high-density routes as the 74-seater offered a substantial increase in seats compared to the Saab 2000. Later both DHC-8-Q400 were sold as they had too much capacity for the Darwin Airline's network.

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.[13] These services were suspended in early 2014 due to low demand.[14]

Cooperation with Etihad Airways[]

On 17 November 2013, Etihad Airways announced that it had bought a 33% stake in Darwin Airline. Following completion of the deal, Darwin used the name Etihad Regional with the subtitle "operated by Darwin Airline".[15] 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 its Saab 2000 aircraft would be repainted in Etihad livery by the end of June 2014. Four ATR 72-500s leased to Etihad Regional were to also be painted in the new livery as soon as they are delivered to the company.[16]

In early 2014, Etihad Regional leased four ATR 72-500s from Nordic Aviation Capital to expand routes from Geneva.[14]

From the end of March 2014, the airline withdrew its Ancona-Roma Fiumicino and Trapani-Roma Fiumicino routes, as a result of cabotage restrictions, which prevent 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 was not renewed.[17][18] In January 2014, Darwin Airline cancelled its Aosta-Roma Fiumicino route before it had commenced; a result of the same cabotage and the European Union's refusal to make an exception for a Swiss company.[19]

Reduction of operations[]

In February 2014 Etihad Regional cancelled the planned routes from Berlin to Poznań and Wrocław,[20] as well as the Zagreb-Rome route. By October 2014, several more destinations like Lyon, Turin, and Stuttgart were also cancelled. Additionally, services between Lugano and Zürich, 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 was reported that Etihad Regional faced harsh competition from Swiss International Air Lines, however it was stated that Etihad had no plans to cancel the proposed purchase of a higher stake in Darwin Airline as suggested by some sources.[21] However, by February 2015 the company cancelled further destinations like Linz and Toulouse and also announced they would lay off a fifth of its staff.[22]

On 18 February 2015, Etihad Regional ceased two-thirds of its scheduled routes without further notice, amongst them all services to Germany[23] and several to France.[24] The airline continued to operate some of their domestic and European routes from Geneva and Lugano[23][25] as well as the Italian domestic service from Bolzano to Rome while all services to and from Zürich were cancelled immediately except the domestic service to Geneva.[24] Etihad Regional blamed competitors as well as the Swiss aviation authorities for their failed expansion.[23]

On 11 March 2015, Darwin Airline confirmed it would start operating some of their Saab 2000s on behalf of Air Berlin, in which Etihad Airways also holds a stake, from April 2015.[26] On 29 March 2015, it was also announced that Darwin Airline will operate all of its four ATR72 on several domestic routes for Alitalia, in which Etihad Airways also holds a stake.[27]

In November 2015, SkyWork Airlines announced the termination of their ACMI contract with Darwin by December 2015 due to crew shortage at Darwin.[28] The operations on behalf of Air Berlin also ended by 30 April 2016, as Air Berlin started to operate two of the three routes itself while the third one ceased.[29]

In May 2017, Darwin announced the termination of its Geneva-Zürich route on 29 May 2017, ending all operations in Zürich. The company plans to focus on Alitalia wetlease operations instead.[30]

Adria Airways Switzerland[]

In July 2017, Darwin Airline was bought by the holding company which owns Adria Airways, the largest airline in Slovenia. Darwin reportedly remained a separate company operating as Adria Airways Switzerland.[31] The new brand took over the fleet and current route network by September 2017 with all Etihad branding being removed from the website.[7]

Shortly afterwards, it was announced that the airline would cease all scheduled operations and focus on ACMI services on behalf of other airlines. The ATR 72-500s will be returned to lessors.[32] On 27 November 2017, Darwin Airline confirmed the closure of its base in Lugano by the end of 2017, with all routes to and from there ending, as well as the closure of all summer seasonal routes from its other base in Geneva,[33] leaving the airline with scheduled year-round flights between Geneva, Lugano (until year-end) and Rome.

Soon after, Darwin Airline filed for bankruptcy protection stating a negative financial outlook due to the loss of wetlease agreements with bankrupt airlines Air Berlin and Alitalia.[34] The airline's operating licence was suspended on 28 November 2017 by the Swiss authorities and all remaining flights were no longer operating until further notice.[35] However, the Swiss authorities allowed the wetlease operations to be continued.[11]

On 12 December 2017 it was announced that Darwin Airline had been declared bankrupt and would be dissolved while the operations licence had been voided. No further flights would be operated. At the same time, Adria Airways announced that by 2018 that Darwin Airline's Saab 2000 fleet would be taken over by its parent company while the ATR 72 would be returned to its lessor at the same time.[2]

Corporate affairs[]

Formerly its head office was on the grounds of Lugano Airport in Agno, near Lugano.[36]


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

As of September 2017, Darwin Airline served the following destinations using the Adria Airways Switzerland brand.[3] All scheduled routes were suspended effective 28 November 2017.[35]

City Country IATA ICAO Airport Notes
Biarritz France BIQ LFBZ Biarritz Pays Basque Airport Seasonal
Brest France BES LFRB Brest Bretagne Airport Seasonal
Brindisi Italy BDS LIBR Brindisi Airport Seasonal
Cagliari Italy CAG LIEE Cagliari Elmas Airport Seasonal
Geneva Switzerland GVA LSGG Geneva Airport Base
Ibiza Spain IBZ LEIB Ibiza Airport Seasonal
Lugano Switzerland LUG LSZA Lugano Airport
Olbia Italy OLB LIEO Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport Seasonal
Rome Italy FCO LIRF Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport

Codeshare agreements[]

Darwin Airline also had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[37]


Darwin Airline Saab 2000 in its former Etihad Regional colors

As of September 2017, the Darwin Airline fleet included the following aircraft:[38][39]

Darwin Airline Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
ATR 72-500 4 68 were to be phased out in early 2018[32]
Saab 2000 6 50 were operated as Adria Airways Switzerland[39]
Total 10


  1. ^ "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". iata.org. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d austrianaviation.net - "Final over and out for Darwin Airline" (German) 12 December 2017
  3. ^ a b c d e "adriaairways.ch - Where we fly". Darwin Airline.
  4. ^ "etihadregional.com". Etihad regional. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.etihad.com/Documents/PDFs/Corporate%20profile/Fast%20facts/Q4-2014-Eng.pdf
  6. ^ "Contact Archived 30 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine." Etihad Regional. Retrieved on 30 October 2016. "Etihad Regional HQ Darwin Airline SA Via Campagna Centro Nord Sud Stabile 2 CH- 6934 Bioggio"
  7. ^ a b adriaairways.ch - Company retrieved 9 September 2017
  8. ^ loyaltylobby.com - Etihad Regional Becomes Adria Airways Switzerland (Etihad Sells It Stake) 23 July 2017
  9. ^ "Etihad Regional reduziert VIE-DRS". austrianaviation.net.
  10. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 71.
  11. ^ a b atwonline.com - Darwin Airline grounded by Swiss regulators 28 November 2017
  12. ^ "Switzerland's Darwin to take over Baboo operations". Flight International. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  13. ^ "Darwin Airline verbindet Leipzig mit Amsterdam und Paris". airliners.de.
  14. ^ a b "Etihad Suspends Cambridge Ops". Airliner World: 6. May 2014.
  15. ^ "Dubai Airshow: Etihad Rebrands Swiss Carrier Darwin With 33% Stake". Gulf Business. Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  16. ^ Etihad and Qatar Airways Enter New Territory, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 27 January 2014, p. 31
  17. ^ RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera. "News -RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera".
  18. ^ di Massimiliano Bona. "L'Europa toglie due rotte alla Darwin". Alto Adige. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Ticinonline - Volo Aosta-Fiumicino, Darwin bocciata". 17 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Darwin Airline shelves Berlin Tegel route launch plans". ch-aviation.com.
  21. ^ "Etihad Regional will not be put off by "aggressive actions of competitors": Hogan". Arabian Business.
  22. ^ "Jeder fünfte Arbeitsplatz weg: Etihad Regional baut Stellen ab - aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH.
  23. ^ a b c "Etihad Regional streicht erneut Flüge". austrianaviation.net.
  24. ^ a b "Netz wird um zwei Drittel verkleinert: Etihad Regional zieht aus Zürich ab - aeroTELEGRAPH". aeroTELEGRAPH.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Fix: Air Berlin setzt auf Saab 2000". austrianaviation.net.
  27. ^ "Alitalia adds new domestic links with Darwin ATR72s". ch-aviation.com.
  28. ^ flyskywork.com - Minor amendments to winter flight schedule 2 December 2015
  29. ^ airberlin.com - Flightplan / GDS retrieved 16 December 2015
  30. ^ aerotelegraph.com - "Etihad Regional pulls out of Zürich" 23 May 2017
  31. ^ "Adria Airways buys Etihad Regional". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  32. ^ a b exyuaviation.com - Adria Switzerland to focus on ACMI, reduce fleet 20 October 2017
  33. ^ austrianaviation.net - Fix: Darwin konzentriert sich auf ACMI-Geschäft (German) 27 November 2017
  34. ^ austrianaviation.net - Darwin beantragt Nachlassstundung (German) 27 November 2017
  35. ^ a b https://www.adriaairways.ch/en-us/breaking-news/important-announcement/
  36. ^ "Contatti." Darwin Airline. Retrieved 10 March 2010. "Darwin Airline SA Lugano Airport, CH-6982 Agno"
  37. ^ "Profile on Etihad Regional". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  38. ^ "Darwin Airline". planespotters.net.
  39. ^ a b adriaairways.ch - Fleet retrieved 9 September 2017

External links[]

Media related to Darwin Airline at Wikimedia Commons