Independent Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline has announced it will base Saab 2000 turboprops at Ancona Falconara Airport in Italy and Leipzig/Halle Airport, its first destination in Germany to introduce new hub connections as it continues to develop its business model to support regional markets. A key part of the regional airline industry in Europe is providing connectivity via the continent’s leading hub airports and this is a model that Darwin is understood to be discussing across a number of international markets, mainly as a SkyTeam alliance feeder.
The new Ancona operation will see Darwin inaugurate a four times daily domestic link to Rome Fiumicino from the capital of the Marche Region from June 1, 2013, when Alitalia’s own operations cease. Alongside offering onward connection opportunities to its own flights from the Italian capital to Trapani and the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, it will provide connections to the Alitalia and SkyTeam networks via codeshare arrangement with the Italian flag carrier, an extension of its existing three-year marketing agreement with the airline that was signed in October last year. Darwin will initially operate the route until the end of the summer schedules in late October 2013.
“Italy is increasingly becoming a priority in the strategy of Darwin Airline. The introduction of the new route Rome-Ancona allows us to reach out to both the leisure and the business segment.”Maurizio Merlo
Chief Executive Officer, Darwin Airline
"Italy is increasingly becoming a priority in the strategy of Darwin Airline," said Maurizio Merlo, Chief Executive Officer, Darwin Airline. "The introduction of the new route Rome-Ancona allows us to reach out to both the leisure and the business segment. Darwin is a Swiss airline, reliable, timely and with a focus on high quality which is a key ingredient in the strong Alitalia partnership.”
In 2012, an estimated 18,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Ancona and Rome Fiumicino but approximately an additional 92,000 passengers flew between Ancona and other destinations across Italy and the rest of the world via the hub link to the Italian capital. The route accounts for around one fifth of the total passenger traffic to/from Ancona. Alongside the O&D demand, the largest passenger flows last year were to the domestic markets of Catania and Palermo and the international destinations of Moscow, Russia; Paris, France; Bucharest, Romania and Barcelona, Spain.
Meanwhile, Darwin will debut in the German market in September when it inaugurates new flights to Amsterdam and Paris from Leipzig/Halle Airport providing additional connection opportunities from the Eastern German regions of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Currently passenger traffic at the facility, also known as Schkeuditz Airport is dominated by low-cost and charter operators and the scheduled flights of Star Alliance members Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, which provide connection options via Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Istanbul, Munich and Vienna.
From September 2, 2013, Darwin will provide up to two daily flights to Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle which alongside meeting point-to-point demand will also provide connection opportunities to the respective SkyTeam hubs of KLM and Air France. According to its initial schedule, Darwin will offer two rotations every weekday and a single rotation at the weekend, totaling 24 new weekly flights from Leipzig/Halle.
“The opening of the new base in Leipzig is consistent with our strategic plan to further develop and expand our presence as a regional carrier in the European market. We are convinced to have found exactly the right partner and market with Leipzig/Halle Airport.”Christian Schneider
Chief Commercial Officer, Darwin Airline
"The opening of the new base in Leipzig is consistent with our strategic plan to further develop and expand our presence as a regional carrier in the European market. We are convinced to have found exactly the right partner and market with Leipzig/Halle Airport," said Christian Schneider, Chief Commercial Officer, Darwin Airline.
The plans of Darwin will mark the resumption of flights on the Paris route, which was previously served by Air France regional subsidiary Regional for a six year period from March 2006 and March 2012 using an Embraer ERJ-145. In Regional’s last full year of service (2011), an estimated 30,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled on the route between Leipzig/Halle and Paris Charles de Gaulle with approximately a further 25,000 passengers connecting via the Parisian hub to other destinations.
Elsewhere, Darwin Airline is to also launch flights from the UK by providing a series of scheduled charter flights for tour operator, Inghams. The UK company is launching its first ever winter ski and summer programme from Cambridge Airport, with new weekly flights to Geneva commencing from December 2013, while weekly flights to Milan and Geneva will appear in Inghams’ Lakes & Mountains programme for summer 2014. All these services will be operated at weekends and will be flown by Darwin Airline using a 50-seat Saab 2000 turboprop: it is unclear if this aircraft will position into the UK, or will be based at Cambridge and offer additional flights on weekdays.