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Operator Brittany Ferries Asked by Governments if it Can Repatriate Irish Lorry Drivers

22nd December 2020
Hauliers say French travel ban exposes lack of capacity on direct ferries to mainland EU. Above adds Afloat is Brittany Ferries ro-ro freight-orientated passenger ferry (ropax) Connamara which is berthed today in Rosslare Europort operating albeit the routine service to Spain via Bilbao. Hauliers say French travel ban exposes lack of capacity on direct ferries to mainland EU. Above adds Afloat is Brittany Ferries ro-ro freight-orientated passenger ferry (ropax) Connamara which is berthed today in Rosslare Europort operating albeit the routine service to Spain via Bilbao. Credit: Brittany Ferries

Governments from Ireland and France have made contact with Brittany Ferries about running a ferry from France to repatriate Irish lorry drivers stranded in Europe by France’s Covid travel ban on Britain should the need arise.

As The Irish Times reports, the French shipping line is understood to have been asked by the French transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, to examine whether it could provide capacity for a sailing to Ireland should it be required to accommodate Irish hauliers affected by the ban on travel to and from Britain.

There have been discussions between Irish and French government officials and with ferry companies to see if additional ships could be redirected in the wake of the ban introduced on Sunday night to prevent the spread of a new infectious coronavirus strain from Britain.

Discussions are taking place about whether Brittany Ferries should run a ship from the port of Caen to Rosslare. The company already runs a service between Rosslare and Bilbao in Spain and is due to (open) a new service between Rosslare and Cherbourg from March.

Government officials are assessing whether the additional capacity provided by Stena Line running a second ferry on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route (today) will meet the required demand.

There will be two Stena ferries leaving for Cherbourg following the announcement.

Published in Brittany Ferries, Ferry
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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