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Brittany Ferries Maintains Freight to Spain But Suspend 'Passengers' On New Rosslare-Bilbao Route

14th March 2020
COVID-19 has led to immediate changes for Brittany Ferries Ireland services to France and Spain as detailed below. Above the ropax ferry Kerry berthed on first day of arrival in Rosslare Europort from where the chartered ferry last month made its maiden voyage to Bilbao, northern Spain.. COVID-19 has led to immediate changes for Brittany Ferries Ireland services to France and Spain as detailed below. Above the ropax ferry Kerry berthed on first day of arrival in Rosslare Europort from where the chartered ferry last month made its maiden voyage to Bilbao, northern Spain.. Credit: Visit Rosslare/Kilrane-facebook

Ferry operator Brittany Ferries has outlined a series of immediate changes to its schedules, in response to the on-going Coronavirus crisis.

On 12 March, the French government announced steps to protect its citizens.

According to the company employing all-French crew, Brittany Ferries announced that they must also respond quickly. It must prepare for the possibility that many crew may not be available to work, either through self-isolation or because they are caring for family members at home.

In addition the Spanish government has announced a state of alert, applicable from 14 March. This follows a significant increase in Coronavirus cases and advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance advising citizens to avoid travel to certain regions of Spain.

The measures are therefore designed to ensure sufficient crew are available to operate as many services as possible, while responding to the dynamic political situation in Spain.

The following changes will apply until at least 9 April 2020:

(AFLOAT adds for information from the Irish Government, click HERE and including Travel advice this LINK plus the Irish Dept of Foreign Affairs website).

Ireland-Spain 

Brittany Ferries’ Kerry service operating between Rosslare and Bilbao will take only freight. The last passenger service will leave Bilbao tomorrow at 12:00 on Sunday 15 March bound for Rosslare. This change applies until at least 9 April 2020. For sailings schedule click HERE.

Ireland-France

Following dry-docking in Poland, Pont-Aven (as Afloat reported) the flagship will not return to service on Tuesday as planned on 17 March (St. Patrick's Day) until at least 9 April 2020. Pont-Aven was scheduled to serve the following destinations: Portsmouth-Santander-Plymouth-Roscoff-Cork. For sailings click HERE.

These changes will be reviewed by directors in the days and weeks to come. All passengers with existing reservations will be offered a full refund. Where possible - and acceptable to the traveller - alternative arrangements will be made on other Brittany Ferries services.

“On behalf of everyone in the company, I would like to apologise for the significant disruption this will cause to many customers,” said Christophe Mathieu, CEO Brittany Ferries. “However, under the extraordinary circumstances of the current crisis, we have no option but to take decisive action now to respond to the challenges we face. We thank everyone for their understanding at this difficult time.”

It is likely that customer relations teams in all markets will be extremely busy in the days to come. In addition, normal two-way interaction via social media may not be possible due to the volume of enquiries and availability of staff.

Brittany Ferries apologises in advance for delays in usual response times.

Click here for further information on changes to some of the operators other routes. 

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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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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