Etihad is pulling the plug on its upscale Swiss arm Etihad Regional, launched in early 2014 to attract Europe's well-heeled business travellers.
Darwin Airline, which began flying under the Etihad Regional brand after the Gulf carrier purchased a one-third stake in the Lugano-based airline, has announced its sale to Slovenia's Adria Airways and will rebrand as Adria Airways Switzerland.
The move represents yet another retreat for Etihad Airways from its big-spending expansionist era, which also saw the Gulf carrier take large stakes in still-troubled Alitalia and Airberlin.
"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," said Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer of Etihad Aviation Group.
When launching Etihad Regional in January 2014, now-outgoing Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan described the play as "a step-change" for his airline.
"We are creating a unique approach to network development for global airlines. European travellers will now be able to connect from a far, far wider range of European towns and cities on Etihad-branded aircraft, through Abu Dhabi to our destinations worldwide."
Etihad Regional used its fleet of 50-seat Saab 2000 turbo-prop aircraft to lace a new network map across Europe, offering passengers direct connections to dozens of major cities as well as tapping into a half-dozen cities served by Etihad plus the hubs of Airberlin and Air Serbia.