Etihad Boosts European Network, Launches New Zurich Route

The move follows the Abu Dhabi carrier’s acquisition of a 33.3 per cent stake in Swiss airline Darwin.



Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has announced that it will launch daily non-stop flights to Zurich, Switzerland from June 1, 2014.

The announcement follows Etihad’s 33.3 per cent acquisition of Swiss carrier Darwin Airline, also revealed on Sunday during the Dubai Airshow.

Through Zurich, the daily flight will connect with the route network of Darwin, which will be rebranded Etihad Regional, the airline said in a statement.

Darwin will provide connections between Zurich and eight European destinations including Leipzig, Florence, Graz, Linz, Lyon, Turin and Verona, and a new domestic service to Geneva. The airline already operates domestic services between Geneva and Lugano.

The Zurich route, which is still subject to regulatory approvals, will become Etihad’s second Swiss destination after Geneva, and will be served by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a three-class configuration, the statement added.

James Hogan, Etihad president and CEO said: “Thanks to our new relationship with Darwin Airline, Zurich will become an important connection point for travellers into and out of Europe.”

The new route will help boost trade and leisure ties between the UAE and Switzerland, he said.

Swiss exports to the UAE were valued at $3.45 billion in 2012, up 14 per cent on 2011, while exports from the UAE to Switzerland rose 11 per cent over the same period to $600 million.

Hogan added: “Building on these growing bilateral ties, this route announcement will see Etihad Airways spread its European footprint, and at the same time, cement its presence in Switzerland at a crucial time in our growth strategy.

“In addition, airberlin will place its AB flight code on the new Abu Dhabi-Zurich service, where it will link in seamlessly with a number of their operations beyond Zurich to Germany and Spain.”

Etihad has been expanding operations and currently flies to 97 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, with a fleet of 86 aircraft.

The Abu Dhabi carrier has also been adding new equity partners in recent times, and presently holds investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus, and has received regulatory approval to acquire 24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways. It will also acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia from January 2014.