What Happened To Swiss Regional Airline Fly Baboo?

Switzerland’s convenient location in central Europe means that even carriers with a more regional focus can still serve a myriad of international destinations. One such airline was Geneva-based Fly Baboo SA, known in short as simply Baboo. This carrier operated various interesting routes from 2003 to 2010, but what exactly happened to it?

Fly Baboo Dash 8
Baboo came into existence to take over an abandoned domestic route. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

In the beginning

UK entrepreneur and finance expert Julian Cook brought Baboo to life in 2003. He founded the airline to fill the gap left by SWISS on the Geneva-Lugano route, after the national airline abandoned its services on this domestic corridor. Baboo’s first flight operated in 2003, although, at this point, the airline didn’t have its own air operator’s certificate (AOC).

As such, it made use of aircraft from German regional carrier Cirrus Airlines to operate its initial flights. Eventually, after six months, May 2004 saw Baboo obtain its own AOC. Having acquired this, it was able to operate its own Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 turboprop.

In 2007, Baboo was acquired by M1, a Lebanon-based investment group. One of the consequences of this was a €9.2 million ($10.94 million) equity release, which helped the airline plot its growth more soundly. 2007 also saw Julian Cook leave the company.

Fly Baboo Dash 8
As Baboo grew, it flew larger planes like the Dash 8-Q400. Photo: Biggerben via Wikimedia Commons

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Fleet and routes

Baboo operated a fascinating array of routes from its Geneva hub. Domestically speaking, it served Zürich alongside its inaugural route to Lugano. Elsewhere in Europe, it flew to multiple destinations in neighboring France and Italy at the time of its collapse, as well as further afield in Spain. Its terminated destinations represented an even more diverse mix.

Indeed, the routes that Baboo stopped serving before it ceased operations stretched as far afield as North Africa, to Tunisia and Morocco. It also flew to two UK airports, namely London City and London Oxford. Baboo’s route from the latter to Geneva was Oxford’s most high profile international route, and even offered an onward connection to Rome.

Having initially flown a Dash 8-Q300, Baboo soon acquired two examples of its larger Q400 counterpart. These seated 74 passengers in an all-economy setup. CAPA notes that, despite its lack of a premium cabin, Baboo was not a budget carrier, and prided itself on high service standards. Later on, it also flew Embraer ERJ135 and E190 regional jets.

Fly Baboo Embraer 190
The Embraer 190 was Baboo’s largest aircraft, and it operated three. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The end of the line

Despite a turnover of 73 million Swiss Francs ($80.6 million) in 2009, the following year saw Baboo cease operations. In mid-2010, the airline terminated several routes, as well as withdrawing its Geneva-Oxford service from its forthcoming winter schedules. In October that year, Baboo announced that it would return its Embraer 190s to their lessors.

A month later, Baboo was saved from bankruptcy when Lugano-based regional carrier Darwin Airline acquired it, and some of its assets. This carrier operated under the Etihad Regional brand from 2014 to 2017, after which it was known as Adria Airways Switzerland. It folded in December 2017 due to bankruptcy and a voided license. Certain aircraft joined Adria’s main fleet, although the Slovenian flag carrier itself folded in September 2019.

Did you know about Fly Baboo? Perhaps you even flew with the carrier or its successor, Darwin Airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.