Etihad Airways sells minority stake in Darwin Airline

Etihad Airways sells minority stake in Darwin Airline
Etihad and other investors have sold their shares in Darwin Airline to a subsidiary of Slovenian airline Adria Airways. (Courtesy Etihad Regional)
Updated 20 July 2017

Etihad Airways sells minority stake in Darwin Airline

Etihad Airways sells minority stake in Darwin Airline

DUBAI: Etihad Airways has unloaded its minority interest on the European regional carrier Darwin Airline, its first divestment after management undertook a review of the Abu Dhabi airline’s strategy since last year.
“The decision to sell this minority stake in Darwin is the result of our current strategic review of our investments and the choice to focus on our other partners,” Kevin Knight, the chief strategy and planning officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said in a statement.
Etihad, which owns a third of Darwin Airline, and other investors have sold their shares to a subsidiary of Slovenia’s Adria Airways. Darwin Airline will rebrand as Adria Airways Switzerland.
The Swiss regional airline, which flies under the brand name Etihad Regional, provides domestic flights as well as international services in some western European countries from its bases at Geneva Airport and Lugano Airport.
The divestment is another setback for Etihad, whose growth strategy has been pinned on acquiring minority stakes in struggling airlines across Europe, India and Australia to expand its network. It has stakes in eight airlines including Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and India’s Jet Airways.
But Etihad’s biggest headache however is its minority interest at Alitalia, for which it paid €560 million (SR2.42 billion) for a 49 percent share in 2014.
The investment was part of a wider €1.76 billion recapitalization package to fund the Italian airline’s five-year business plan, which included the retrenchment of around 1,600 staff.
Union members however rejected the agreement, which pushed the Italian carrier to request to be put into extraordinary administration.
“Without the support of all stakeholders for that restructuring, we aren’t prepared to continue to invest,” James Hogan, then-president and chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, said in May.