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First Ever Ferry Service from Ireland to Spain Announced

12th December 2013
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First Ever Ferry Service from Ireland to Spain Announced

#ferry – Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed the second significant announcement of a new ferry route into Ireland in a matter of weeks, after LD Ferries confirmed a weekly service from western France and northern Spain.

The LD Ferries service will connect Rosslare with St Nazaire on the west coast of France, and with Gijón in northern Spain.

"This is a very welcome announcement and provides a valuable new landbridge from France and Spain into Ireland. It's the first service of its kind to Ireland, and it's great news for our tourism industry.

"This is the second positive announcement of a new ferry service in a matter of weeks. Last November a new route from Cherbourg to Dublin was announced.

"We are already well serviced in terms of air access, but this new route will help us to grow ferry tourism into Ireland. Driving holidays encourage visitors to spend longer in Ireland and to explore more of the country. It's very good news as we build on the success of The Gathering next year."

Port of Cork adds:  

New Ferry Service from Cork to Santander Set to Increase Tourism and Freight in Munster

The Port of Cork Company today welcomed the announcement of a new route into Northern Spain from Cork which is due to commence at the end of April 2018. The service which will make two return sailings a week from Port of Cork to Port of Santander will be operated by Brittany Ferries and will include a weekly return sailing from Cork to Roscoff also.

A new RoPax ship called ‘Connemara’ will be chartered to serve the route which will add much needed capacity to Brittany Ferries existing line to France from Cork. The ship is currently operating on routes between Italy and Greece and will carry around 500 passengers with space for 195 cars. The Port of Cork and Brittany Ferries would expect a fifty-fifty split between passengers and freight carried.

Port of Cork’s Commercial Manager Captain Michael McCarthy said, “The Port of Cork wholeheartedly welcomes a service we have been trying as a port to establish for some time now. We are delighted that our long term customer, Brittany Ferries, has committed to this new service which will see an increase in tourism and freight. The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues. We have no doubt that both exporters and importers will make this a viable service.’ 

At present, there is a range of opinion about possible ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ UK Brexit scenarios, the timing and likely effects. For example, a ‘hard’ border (at ports and across Irish Sea) would mean Customs controls for ports serving the UK, increasing the need for this direct service between Ireland and Spain and an opportunity for Cork as a new ‘centre of gravity’.

The Port of Cork hinterland is the key primary agriculture and Food & Drink output region in the country. The vast majority of the goods imported and exported through Cork are consumables in the perishables arena such as wines, spirits, dairy, water and a wide range of other supermarket products. Freight customers will like this route because the Port of Cork can load and unload quickly thereby enabling customers to get their produce to market quicker, than if they travel through East Coast ports.

This new route to Northern Spain and France will greatly reduce the amount of road miles and therefore providing a lower cost door to door option for shippers. This will provide substantial carbon (CO2) cost saving that is becoming increasingly relevant to companies that are seeking to exhibit their ‘green’ credentials 

The new service from Brittany Ferries is expected to be on sale by the end of January.

Published in Ferry
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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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