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European Investment Bank Support for €155m Investment In W.B. Yeats And Second Cruiseferry by ICG

23rd January 2019
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Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, CEO of Irish Continental Group pictured at Dublin Port. Afloat adds the new W.B. Yeats is seen underway having departed the ferry terminal 1 at the start of the maiden commercial sailing to Holyhead, north Wales. Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, CEO of Irish Continental Group pictured at Dublin Port. Afloat adds the new W.B. Yeats is seen underway having departed the ferry terminal 1 at the start of the maiden commercial sailing to Holyhead, north Wales.

#ferries - The European Investment Bank is providing EUR 155 million to finance two new passenger and vehicle ships for the Irish Continental Group subsidiary Irish Ferries.

The announcement was made as the first of the new cruiseferries, W.B. Yeats made its maiden sailing from Dublin to Holyhead yesterday.

The two new cruiseferries according to ICG will increase passenger and cargo capacity on routes to Ireland, replace older and smaller vessels and significantly reduce emissions from the Irish Ferries fleet. The new ferries are expected to be used on both the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg routes to reflect demand for a greater choice of services from Ireland to Britain and direct to continental Europe.

The largest ever EIB support for Irish shipping was announced during a visit (yesterday) morning by Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, CEO of ICG. The latest addition to the Irish Ferries fleet, the new W.B.Yeats, was partly financed using EUR 75 million from the EIB. The W.B. Yeats can transport 1,800 passengers, 300 cars and 165 trucks and following delivery in December as previously highlighted entered service on the core Irish Sea route between Dublin and Holyhead.

The second ship, expected to be completed in 2020 and unnamed as yet, will likely transport 1,800 passengers and crew and 1,526 cars or 300 trucks.

Eamonn Rothwell, CEO, ICG, said “Significant new investment is essential to expand the Irish Ferries fleet and better serve our customers increased demand for passenger and freight transport. The EUR 155 million financing facilities agreed with the EIB, alongside financing from leading Irish and international banks, for the two new cruise ferry ships demonstrates the EIB’s commitment to support transformational corporate investment such as this in Ireland, enabling ICG to deliver on its growth strategy and strengthening the tourism and cargo trading links in and out of the country. We were delighted to take delivery of the superb W.B Yeats in December. The ship is the next level in terms of the experience it offers our customers. After operating on the Irish Sea, the W.B. Yeats will move to service the busy Dublin Cherbourg route in the coming months.”

Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President, said “Shipping connections are crucial for Ireland and the European Investment Bank is pleased together with ICG to support two new ships that will both transform maritime transport to and from this country and cut harmful emissions. The EUR 155 million long-term EIB loans will support EUR 309 million of new investment in best in class vessels that will serve Irish routes for years to come. The new W.B. Yeats, on its maiden voyage from Dublin today (yesterday), together with the second vessel will transform freight capacity and passenger travel from Ireland to the UK and continental Europe. The first approval of financing under the EIB’s Green Shipping initiative reflects firm commitment of ICG to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Increasing maritime transport capacity reflects increased demand arising from Ireland’s export driven recovery and the potential need for flexibility in the event of disruption on UK routes. In the context of EIB’s ever-increasing support for Irish private businesses, these two loans also demonstrate the value that EIB loans can provide to Irish corporates through beneficial pricing, long tenors and flexible loan structures.”

Ireland leading the way with Green Shipping

The long-term loan to Irish Continental Group represents the first support approved by the EIB under a new Green Shipping financing initiative that supports investment in new and existing ships to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.

The W.B.Yeats ship incorporates emissions scrubber technology to reduce sulphur oxide pollution and ballast water systems which meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption and efficiencies.

EIB support for second new Irish Ferries ship

The EIB is providing EUR 80 million to finance construction of a second new vessel for Irish Continental Group’s Irish Ferries operations. Due for delivery during 2020, once operational this vessel will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity and provide Irish Ferries with an effective 50% increase in peak freight capacity.

New ships to ensure flexible service between Ireland, Britain and France

The new ships have been designed to enable flexible use on all existing Irish Ferries routes between Irish, British and French Ports and the vessels will be used to reflect the increased tourism and freight demand.

Background:  The EIB’s Green Shipping Programme Loan is supported by the EU's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Debt Instrument and the European Fund for Strategic investments (EFSI).

The initiatives designed both for general fleet renewal and the retrofitting of ships with sustainable technologies, such as LNG, ballast water, energy efficiency. The Green Shipping Programme Loan follow-up work by the European Sustainable Shipping Forum – an expert group bringing together European countries, maritime industry stakeholders and the European Commission.

 

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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