Etihad Regional plans Italian deployment for initial ATRs

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Darwin Airline – which operates as Etihad Regional – is to base its first two ATR 72-500s in Italy, where it has a co-operation agreement with Alitalia.

The Swiss-based carrier has confirmed a deal to lease four of the turboprops from Denmark's Nordic Aviation Capital. The leases have three-year terms.

The first aircraft will be operational at the beginning of April, the second at the end of that month, the third at the beginning of May, and the last in June, says Maurizio Merlo, chief executive of Lugano-based Darwin. The four aircraft will complement eight Saab 2000 turboprops in the Etihad Regional fleet.

"In the ATR 72-500, we have a suitable aircraft for routes where the 50-seat Saab 2000 may no longer be efficient," said Merlo at a briefing in Lugano today, adding that the turboprops "will strengthen our fleet and support our expansion plans for the summer".

Etihad Regional plans to later use the 68-seat ATR aircraft on routes to Geneva and Zurich.

"It will depend how well the market responds but we will adjust accordingly with the 50-seat Saab 2000 if necessary," says Merlo.