Survival of the fittest: Etihad reworking agreement on purchasing Darwin Airlines after Swiss objections
Etihad Airways is making changes to its agreement to acquire a third of Switzerland’s Darwin Airline following objections from Swiss regulator, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (Foca).
“Etihad Airways was advised in June by Foca that changes to the agreement would be needed to secure regulatory approval. Since then it has been working with Foca and is amending the agreement to ensure it complies with regulations,” Etihad said in statement on Sunday.
Foca said last week that the current agreement can lead to Etihad controlling Darwin and would be incompatible with statutory provisions.
Etihad now has until September 30 to make the necessary changes to its agreement for it to take the 33.3 per cent stake in the airline.
We are comfortable with Foca’s review and understand and support the need for there to be absolute clarity that Etihad Airways does not, cannot and will not exercise control over Darwin Airline ,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer, in the statement.
A number of changes have already taken place at the Swiss carrier since the deal was announced last November, including rebranding as Etihad Regional.
“We have a high regard for the management of the business and its capability to build a stronger regional airline that increases competition and choice for air travellers, especially in Switzerland,” Hogan said.
A former Etihad employee has taken up the position of chief financial officer at Darwin.
Foca’s objection comes just months after the European Commission announced it was taking a look at foreign holdings in a number of European carriers including Etihad’s nearly 30 per cent stake in Air Berlin and Delta’s 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic.
Etihad hold’s equity stakes in three European carriers, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia and Air Berlin, and while it waits on regulatory approval for Darwin Airline it announced earlier this month it will take a 49 per cent stake in Italy’s national carrier Alitalia.
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