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DFDS UK-Europe Trade Continues To Grow Despite Brexit

11th February 2018
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DFDS ro-ro freighter Ark Dania which operates a UK-mainland Europe service: Immingham (Humber estuary)-Esbjerg (Denmark). AFLOAT.ie adds the giant Danish operator in 2014 closed the Harwich-Esbjerg route, marking the last direct 'passenger' UK-Scandinavian service, though as previously reported on Afloat, P&O Ferries are considering new opportunities to revive a North Sea link given the background of Brexit. DFDS ro-ro freighter Ark Dania which operates a UK-mainland Europe service: Immingham (Humber estuary)-Esbjerg (Denmark). AFLOAT.ie adds the giant Danish operator in 2014 closed the Harwich-Esbjerg route, marking the last direct 'passenger' UK-Scandinavian service, though as previously reported on Afloat, P&O Ferries are considering new opportunities to revive a North Sea link given the background of Brexit. Photo: DFDS Shipping & Logistics

#FerryNews - Danish shipping giant, DFDS has just reported another record result for 2017, the year followed the 150th anniversary of the shipping company established in December 1866. 

The operating profit according to DFDS was DKK 2.7 billion. The record figure by the Copenhagen based private shipping and logistics operator is derived from among other things on the continuing positive development in volumes on the company’s ten freight routes across the North Sea linking the UK-mainland Europe. 

Afloat adds the final 'passenger' UK-Scandinavia service closed in 2014 in advance primarily due to EU sulphur rules introduced in 2015.

Commenting on the figures,Niels Smedegaard, CEO & President, DFDS “Overall, North Sea freight volumes grew by 7% in 2017. In spite of the Brexit issue, and the delayed Brexit agreement between the UK and EU, we see that the UK’s economy is still growing, albeit at a slower pace. According to the UK government’s official prognosis, growth is expected to continue at just over 1 per cent in 2018. At the moment, we even see an increasing growth in British exports, which also contributes positively to our developments on our ten North Sea routes”

To accommodate the expected volume growth over the coming years, DFDS has ordered four new mega ships with a capacity of 475 trailers each for the North Sea traffic. The ships will be delivered from 2019 and onwards from the Jinling Shipyard in China.

The positive development in North sea volumes is also underpinned by some shortage in drivers as trips to UK are not as attractive as they used to be due to the fall of the pound in the wake of the Brexit vote. This has resulted in some freight forwarders changing from using trucks with drivers to just sending unaccompanied trailers on DFDS’ freight-only ships.

“In spite of the challenges Brexit may lead to over the coming years, we can also see opportunities for providing our customers with new, valuable, customs clearance services after Brexit, should customs clearance become necessary. We are located in the ports and have experience with this from our UK to Norway service,” added Niels Smedegaard.

 

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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