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Brittany Ferries Kerry Sets Sail From Rosslare Europort Bound for Bilbao, Spain

28th February 2020
Brittany Ferries Group Freight Director, Simon Wagstaff; Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort; and Minister Paul Kehoe TD pictured this morning at the Co. Wexford ferryport. AFLOAT adds the ropax ferry Kerry berthed at the harbour's outer pier prior to departing today on the new Ireland-Spain route's ship's maiden sailing bound for Bilbao, northern Spain. Brittany Ferries Group Freight Director, Simon Wagstaff; Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort; and Minister Paul Kehoe TD pictured this morning at the Co. Wexford ferryport. AFLOAT adds the ropax ferry Kerry berthed at the harbour's outer pier prior to departing today on the new Ireland-Spain route's ship's maiden sailing bound for Bilbao, northern Spain.

Brittany Ferries ropax ferry Kerry which completed a repositioning voyage to Rosslare Europort earlier today has since departed having embarked on an inaugural direct sailing to Bilbao in northern Spain.

  • First Rosslare to Bilbao sailing today, Friday, 28th February
  • First French rotation (to Roscoff) next month on Monday, 23rd March
  • Move welcomed by Irish and Spanish hauliers

The new route out of Rosslare in Co. Wexford according to Brittany Ferries has been welcomed by hauliers given the port’s proximity to Dublin and the east coast road network. Equally hauliers operating on the European mainland have welcomed the move to Bilbao, a port more attuned to freight traffic with easier transport links into the Iberian Peninsula.

While primarily aimed at the freight market into Europe, the route will also carry holidaymakers to both Spain and France (noting new route also to Roscoff). It will be part of Brittany Ferries ‘économie’ service, offering a comfortable, no-frills voyage. Sailings will be twice-weekly and will incorporate a weekly Ireland/France rotation.

Speaking at the launch of the new route to Spain, Brittany Ferries Group Freight Director, Simon Wagstaff: “I am delighted to be here for the first Brittany Ferries sailing from Rosslare. Since we opened operations linking Ireland and Spain in 2018 we have listened carefully to feedback from freight customers, on what is predominantly a route for commercial traffic. The clear message was that a move to Rosslare would help them and us deliver a more attractive option to the UK landbridge. We now operate from two ports in Ireland, reinforcing our commitment to the country, its people and its economy.”

Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort added: “We are delighted to welcome Brittany Ferries’ Kerry to Rosslare Europort today. We look forward to working with Brittany Ferries to building a successful partnership to serve freight and passenger customers. The decision to introduce this service not only shows the appeal of Rosslare Europort to shipping lines, freight and tourism customers, but also is the first of what we intend to be a number of new business announcements, building on our €25 million investment plans in port facilities, infrastructure and technology".

Carr added "Rosslare Europort is Ireland’s closest port to mainland Europe, and is now the only port outside of Dublin with a Border Inspection Post facility, and will provide the quickest direct services for exports and imports to both Europe and the UK post-Brexit".

The new Rosslare to Bilbao route will open for passenger bookings online in early March but customers can now book through the Brittany Ferries reservations team by phone on 021 427 7801. Our Freight Reservations team can be contacted on +44 (0)330 159 5000.

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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