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Brittany Ferries Expand “Économie” UK Services By Bringing in The Baie

16th February 2015
Brittany Ferries Expand “Économie” UK Services By Bringing in The Baie

#FerryÉconomie - Brittany Ferries are to expand their fleet and offer more no-frills 'économie' UK sailings to Le Havre and Bilbao with the launch in May of chartered ro-pax Baie de Seine, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Baie de Seine was the former Sirena Seaways which operated the final ferry link between the UK and Scandinavia until closed last year by DFDS Seaways on their Harwich-Esbjerg (Denmark) route.

The closure of the historic North Sea route will see the ro-pax operate for Brittany Ferries économie brand in which Etretat launched almost a year ago.

The second ro-pax to join Brittany Ferries 'no-frill's operations, Baie de Seine will serve Portsmouth-Le Havre route (four times a week) and Portsmouth-Bilbao route (once a week).

One of the core reasons for the closure of the North Sea route given by DFDS was the inability to sustain added costs accrued to the new EU Directive on Sulphur Emissions which came into effect at the start of 2015.

For her new role scrubbers are to be fitted to Baie de Seine so to enable her to burn low cost heavy fuel oil yet comply with new low sulphur emissions regulations.

The Brittany Ferries économie brand services are aimed to customers wishing to travel to France or Spain at what the company claim to be 'very reasonable fares' without the cruise-style experience normally provided by the operator.

Baie de Seine is certified to carry 610 passengers but the operator will reduce numbers to well below this capacity on the ro-pax which has limited facilities and space.

She is to join the second économie-branded ship, Etretat, which as alluded above launched the service last year during March. Prior to that the Visentini ro-pax served LD Lines Irish and UK services in addition to those of Celtic Link Ferries.

Mike Bevens, Group Commercial Director, comments: "We have been really pleased with the demand for our new no-frills service so this additional ship will provide a welcome boost in capacity and provide our customers with an even wider range of sailing times. Furthermore, it now brings the total number of services to Spain to seven a week, again providing more choice."

Customers can mix and match économie sailings with the company's other cruiseferry services to Normandy (to include fast-ferry on the Portsmouth-Cherbourg/lLe Havre), Brittany and northern Spain. In addition to the fexibility of travelling out by one route and returning by another. 

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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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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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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