By Sarah Townsend
Stake sale is Etihad’s first divestment since it undertook company review last year
Etihad Airways has sold its minority stake in Swiss carrier Darwin Airline, it confirmed on Thursday.
Etihad and other investors have sold their shares in Darwin Airline to a subsidiary of Slovenian national carrier Adria Airways for an undisclosed sum, according a statement from Darwin Airline.
Darwin has operated under the name Etihad Regional since the Abu Dhabi-based carrier took a 33.3 percent stake in 2014.
Under the terms of the deal, Darwin will continue to operate under its legal name Darwin Airline SA, with its own air operator’s certificate, but will change its marketing brand from Etihad Regional to Adria Airways Switzerland.
Kevin Knight, Etihad Aviation Group’s chief strategy and planning officer, said: “The decision to sell this minority stake in Darwin is a result of the ongoing strategic review of our investments and a decision to concentrate on our other partnerships.”
Darwin’s statement said its CEO Maurizio Merlo had stepped down to “take on a new challenge”. He is replaced by Heinrich Ollendiek, who previously acted as Adria Airways’ chief financial officer, the statement added.
Adria Airways will take over some of Darwin’s administrative and operational tasks and will market the Swiss airline’s services.
Lugano in Southern Switzerland will remain the company’s headquarters, with Geneva as its second base.
Adria Airways, a member of the Star Alliance, was founded in 1961 and privatised last year. It is now 100 percent owned by Luxembourg-based private equity fund 4K Invest and headquartered in Ljubljana. Last year it generated total annual revenues of EUR157 million ($180.5 million).
Emilio Martinenghi, chairman of Darwin Airline, said: “Adria Airways, with its extensive expertise and strong route network, especially in the Southeast European market, will be very beneficial not only to the future of Darwin but also to the Ticino region we serve, which needs good connections with the rest of Switzerland and throughout Europe.”
Dr. Arno Schuster, CEO of Adria Airways, said: “Darwin is an excellent airline with experienced management and staff. Extending our network and, consequently, optimising cost structures will create a win-win situation for both carriers.”For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.