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Port of Cork Celebrates Brittany Ferries 40 Years Linking Ireland & France  

13th June 2018
In 2017, Brittany Ferries carried more than 87,000 passengers, which was an increase of 4% on the previous season In 2017, Brittany Ferries carried more than 87,000 passengers, which was an increase of 4% on the previous season Credit: Bob Bateman

In May 1978 Brittany Ferries launched their Cork-Roscoff ferry route from Cork City Quays with their flagship MV ‘Armorique’. At the time, all ferries departing Cork used the passenger terminal at Tivoli, before being transferred downriver to the dedicated Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal which opened in 1982. Since then the passenger and freight route linking Ireland and France has gone from strength to strength and today the Port of Cork acknowledged this service by wishing Brittany Ferries a Happy 40th Anniversary linking the two countries.

Port of Cork Chairman, John Mullins said: ‘It is with great pleasure that today we wish our long-term customer, Brittany Ferries, a very happy 40th anniversary linking Ireland and France. This company has shown true dedication in providing a reliable and attractive ferry service for both passengers and freight. On behalf of the Port of Cork I would like to congratulate Brittany Ferries on the last the 40 years’ service and wish them every success for the next 40 years.’ 

Bretagne Britanny ferriesBritanny Ferries Bretagne off Cobh in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Over the last 40 years Brittany Ferries have become the market leader on the Western Channel for passengers and freight and in 2018 this commitment was further endorsed when Brittany Ferries announced the first ever ferry service linking Ireland and Spain, with the new Ro-Pax twice-weekly service from Cork to Santander. As well as serving Cork to Santander, this route also delivers an additional weekly return-sailing from Cork to Roscoff.

The new Ro-Pax ferry service was welcomed by the Port of Cork which has brought an increase in Spanish tourism to Cork and provides a very useful connection for exporting freight from Ireland to mainland Europe. This new service, the first direct service from Ireland to Spain, will offer the option for freight carriers and passengers to bypass the UK and French land-bridge to Spain as Brexit uncertainty continues. The Port of Cork hinterland is the key primary pharma, agriculture and food & drink output region in the country. This more efficient supply chain will offer freight customers a direct route to market enabling them to get their produce to market quicker than if they travel through traditional ports.

In 2017, Brittany Ferries carried more than 87,000 passengers, which was an increase of 4% on the previous season and contributing to the national economy. While France continues to be a popular travel destination for Irish travellers, the number of French people visiting Ireland showed no signs of waning as nearly 45,000 availed of the route, representing 52% of all passengers carried.

Published in Brittany Ferries
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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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