The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) has revoked Darwin Airline’s operating certificate due to “financial reasons,” forcing the Lugano-based carrier to cease all operations on Tuesday. The airline posted a message on its website indicating it is working on a solution to restart operations soon.
The move by FOCA comes a day after Darwin filed for insolvency due to what it called “several unfavorable market impacts” that beset new owner Adria Airways since it bought the Swiss regional airline in June. Darwin said it would work to save as many jobs as it could by continuing to fly under its existing operating certificate, becoming a crew service provider for pilots and flight attendants and offering maintenance services for both its own aircraft and third parties.
Although it bought Darwin a month after code-share partner Alitalia declared insolvency, Adria named the resulting termination of all business contracts with the Italian flag carrier as one of the difficulties it faced. Later, the unexpected insolvency of Air Berlin, for which Darwin provided ACMI services, led to what the Swiss airline characterized as significant negative effects such as bad debt, loss of existing business and future business opportunities.
Darwin’s insolvency marks another casualty of Etihad Airways’ withdrawal from loss-making equity stakes in European airlines. Etihad sold its 33.3-percent share in Darwin in July, some two and a half months after it refused to inject further capital into Alitalia without steep concessions from employees. In August Etihad withdrew any further support of Air Berlin, another foundering airline in which it owned more than a 29-percent stake. Air Berlin immediately filed for insolvency and just two months later ceased operations. Most of Air Berlin’s remaining aircraft and slot assets now reside with Lufthansa and EasyJet.