Swiss yet to be convinced over Etihad-Darwin tie-up

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Swiss regulators are still awaiting further information from Darwin Airline before making a final ruling on whether shareholder Etihad Airways’ involvement complies with ownership rules.

Darwin Airline was rebranded as Etihad Regional after the Middle Eastern carrier took a one-third share.

But while the stake falls within European limits, Swiss federal civil aviation regulator BAZL has been looking into Etihad’s role in Darwin’s management.

The procedure is “not over,” stresses a spokeswoman for BAZL, adding that Darwin has until the end of September to provide further information on the tie-up.

But BAZL also strongly indicates that, as the situation stands, it has yet to be satisfied that the Etihad-Darwin partnership meets the criteria for approval.

The spokeswoman says the regulator needs to ensure that the investment does not lead to a scenario in which the regional carrier is "Darwin, but not really Darwin".

Darwin has undergone a number of operational changes including forming closer links with Air Berlin – another carrier in which Etihad has a stake – while its fleet is being renewed with ATR turboprops.

Etihad’s shareholding in Darwin is one of several foreign interests in European airlines to have come under recent scrutiny. The European Commission is examining Etihad’s role in Air Serbia as well as Delta Air Lines’ involvement in Virgin Atlantic.