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Operator P&O Ferries Consider New Ferry Routes from Scotland to Scandinavia

4th January 2018
P&O Ferries “always looking for new opportunities” of a Scotland-Scandinavian service. Above the operators Pride of Bruges which serves the England-Belgium route of Hull-Zeebrugge. Currently the only ferry route linking Scotland and Europe (Afloat adds that is run by DFDS) is Rosyth-Zeebrugge but the service became freight-only in 2010. P&O Ferries “always looking for new opportunities” of a Scotland-Scandinavian service. Above the operators Pride of Bruges which serves the England-Belgium route of Hull-Zeebrugge. Currently the only ferry route linking Scotland and Europe (Afloat adds that is run by DFDS) is Rosyth-Zeebrugge but the service became freight-only in 2010. Photo: By Spielvogel /Wikipedia

#FerryNews - According to the Edinburgh News, a ferry company has said it is willing to enter talks with the Scottish Government about a new ferry route between Scotland and Scandinavia.

P&O Ferries said it was “always looking for new opportunities” after SNP backbench MSP Angus MacDonald urged Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to call a summit with ferry operators to explore the potential for a new service between Scotland and Norway, Denmark or Sweden.

Rosyth’s freight-only ferry to Zeebrugge is currently the country’s only sea link to Europe. But a new passenger ferry to Scandinavia is seen as an opportunity to boost exports as well as tourism.

Mr MacDonald said a new ferry link could be “incredibly beneficial” to Scotland and he hoped a meeting with ferry operators could be arranged “ahead of the potential damage to our tourism sector from the impact of Brexit”.

A spokesman for P&O said: “We are always looking for new opportunities and would be happy to sit down with the relevant parties to discuss a route between Scotland and Scandinavia.”

There were more than 15 million visits to the UK from Scandinavia between 2011 and 2016, contributing nearly £8.5 billion to the UK economy. Spending by Danish visitors alone rose by 30 per cent over the five years.

In 2016, Sweden, Denmark and Norway ranked 14th, 15th and 16th for the number of visitors coming to the UK. Mr MacDonald said: “Surely it makes sense to give people another option of how to travel across the North Sea, to ensure our economy continue to benefit from tourists?”

The ferry route between Rosyth and the Belgian port of Zeebrugge opened in 2002, but the passenger service ended in 2010 and it has since been freight-only.

Mr MacDonald said the last ferry link from the UK to Scandinavia ended in 2014 which Afloat previously reported on was DFDS Seaways Harwich-Esbjerg service.

To read more on this story, click here and Afloat's piece on P&O's 180th anniversary which was marked last year.

 

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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