DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline (F7) was founded in 2003. Management planned to take over several routes formerly flown by Crossair (LX) after the latter took over the assets of Swissair (SR) in 2002.
Operations commenced on July 28, 2004, with services between Geneva (GVA) and its Lugano Airport (LUG) base, utilizing a fleet of Saab 2000s. The airline helped the manufacturer gain steep approach approval for the aircraft into LUG.
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F7 launched its first International route in March 2005, when it began flying between LUG, Berne (BRN) and London City (LCY).
In November 2010, the airline took over the services and assets of GVA-based rival Baboo (F7). The combined carrier had a fleet consisting of six Saab 2000s and two Dash 8 Q400s flying to over 20 destinations across Europe. Speaking at the time, Baboo CEO Mark Darby said the tie-up would “create a Swiss regional airline of great importance.”
The airline was rebranded as Etihad Regional in November 2013 after announcing that Etihad Airways (EY) had purchased a 33% stake.
Ownership changed hands again in July 2017 when Darwin was purchased by Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways (JP). All scheduled services were subsequently dropped, with F7 choosing to focus on ACMI work.
However, Darwin was forced to file for bankruptcy protection after the loss of ACMI contracts with Air Berlin (AB) and Alitalia (AZ). On December 12, 2017 the airline was declared bankrupt and all operations grounded. The Saab 2000 fleet was taken over by JP, while the ATR-72s were returned to their lessors.