Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has denied a report that its proposed purchase of a stake in Switzerland’s Darwin Airline was in jeopardy, saying it expects a positive decision on the acquisition within weeks.
In a separate statement on Tuesday, Darwin said it was restructuring its operations due to economic uncertainty and intense competition from rival Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS).
Etihad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is in the process of buying a 33.3 per cent stake in Darwin, which has already rebranded itself Etihad Regional in anticipation of the deal’s completion.
Darwin, based in Lugano, Switzerland, said it was pulling out of four loss-making routes from the start of February to focus on providing contract services for other carriers in Europe.
Earlier on Tuesday, Swiss-German free newspaper 20 Minuten, citing its Swiss-Italian sister publication, reported the partnership between the two airlines was struggling in the face of strong competition from SWISS, but Etihad said it is committed to the tie-up.
“Our commitment to work with Darwin Airline remains strong and will not be compromised by the aggressive actions of competitors,” Etihad Chairman and Chief Executive James Hogan said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
Last month Darwin lodged a formal complaint with Switzerland’s competition commission over alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Lufthansa-owned SWISS.
Swiss authorities have given Darwin until the end of January to answer questions before they approve the Etihad deal.
Hogan said Etihad is confident of reaching a positive conclusion to the regulatory process relating to the Darwin deal in the weeks to come.