Etihad Regional competes with Swiss on Lugano-Zurich route

10 Sep 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Traditionally, domestic routes in Switzerland have seen little competition as most have been in the hands of a single carrier.

But now Etihad Regional (formerly Darwin) has upped the stakes with plans to compete with home carrier Swiss on the important route linking Lugano in Swiss Ticino with Zurich.

Starting on November 1, Etihad Regional will operate twice-daily on the route with Saab 2000 turbo-props.

Etihad Regional

This is in direct competition with Swiss, which operates up to four times daily with DH-8 turbo-props.

Etihad Regional flights F7052 and F7056 will depart Lugano at 0845 and 1755 and arrive into Zurich at 0935 and 1840. Return flights F7051 and F7055 will depart Zurich at 0730 and 1640 and land in Lugano at 0815 and 1725, according to CH-Aviation.

As might be expected, the flights are timed for perfect connections both to and from Etihad's daily service between Zurich and Abu Dhabi. They also allow for day trips on business between either city.

Etihad's long-haul flight EY74 departs Zurich at 1100 to arrive into Abu Dhabi at 2015 in the evening. The return flight EY73 leaves Abu Dhabi at 0225 to land in Zurich the same morning at 0630.

So why doesn't Etihad allow the residents of Lugano to simply take Swiss for connecting possibilities? Well, it's because airlines like to control the entire trip wherever possible.

Look at the example in the UK, where Virgin Atlantic set up Little Red rather than depend on British Airways to feed it with transfer passengers.

But knowledgeable travellers will be puzzled by Etihad's wish to capture Lugano travellers for its morning flight (to Abu Dhabi) by flying them over the Alps to Zurich.

This is because Lugano is only a short distance by road to Milan Malpensa from where Etihad also flies to Abu Dhabi. And Etihad's new tie-up with Alitalia means that both carriers will be expanding their air services out of Milan in the near future (see news, August 8).

But maybe Etihad realises that Swiss travellers are fussy. When it comes to air travel, reliability is all-important and Italy is not known for being free of strikes. Future developments are awaited with interest.

Alex McWhirter

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