etihad-regionalSwiss-based airline Etihad Regional was launched in Zurich today heralding a new era of improved regional and international connections for travellers in Europe.

Established in partnership with UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways, the new carrier will be operated by Switzerland’s Darwin Airline, which is headquartered in Lugano with a major hub in Geneva.

The first aircraft to feature Etihad Regional’s branding, a 50-seat Saab 2000, and new cabin interiors and crew uniforms were showcased for the first time to international media at Zurich Airport, alongside an Etihad Airways Airbus A330-300 aircraft. In the evening VIP guests attended a reception at the Dolder Grand Hotel.

The new livery will adorn all 10 aircraft in the fleet by the end of June 2014.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, explained that the strategy behind Etihad Regional was to build strong regional airline partnerships around the world.

“Etihad Regional will provide a unique opportunity to strengthen vitally important regional networks and connect them to the rapidly expanding global network of Etihad Airways.

“We will choose partners, as we have done with Darwin Airline, which share our passion for delivering an outstanding service to travellers, with greater choice and more convenience.”

Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will acquire a 33.3 per cent stake in Darwin Airline as part of its equity airline alliance strategy. Darwin Airline will become the seventh member of the international alliance and Etihad Airways’ fourth partner in Europe.