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New Service As Irish Ferries Announce Launch on 'Dover – Calais' Route

26th March 2021
In a significant first for Irish Ferries, a subsidiary of Irish Continental Group (ICG), which is to launch a new service on the Dover – Calais route. The Strait of Dover service is planned to start in June 2021, with the transfer of the Isle of Inishmore to the UK-France route. ICG add further capacity will be added in the coming months. Replacing 'Inishmore' on the Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route will be another Mediterranean ferry (see: Ferry News 11th Feb) with the latest charter of ro-ro ferry Blue Star 1 from Greek based Attica Group, (Afloat adds operator of Superfast Ferries) for more on 'Superfast' sisters, see same story from last month. In a significant first for Irish Ferries, a subsidiary of Irish Continental Group (ICG), which is to launch a new service on the Dover – Calais route. The Strait of Dover service is planned to start in June 2021, with the transfer of the Isle of Inishmore to the UK-France route. ICG add further capacity will be added in the coming months. Replacing 'Inishmore' on the Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route will be another Mediterranean ferry (see: Ferry News 11th Feb) with the latest charter of ro-ro ferry Blue Star 1 from Greek based Attica Group, (Afloat adds operator of Superfast Ferries) for more on 'Superfast' sisters, see same story from last month. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

A first for Irish Ferries, as the subsidiary of Irish Continental Group plc (ICG) has announced a new service on the Dover – Calais route.

The service is planned to start in June 2021, with the transfer of Isle of Inishmore (see newer ship for Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route) to the UK-France route. Additional capacity will be added in the coming months.

Irish Ferries is the market leader for freight and passengers between Britain and the Republic of Ireland, a leadership position that has been built on the twin pillars of customer focus and investment in purpose built ships for each route. An Irish Ferries spokesman said:

We are very excited about launching our services on the best short sea ferry market in the world and we believe we can bring more choice for customers in the years ahead.

As part of our commitment to the movement of freight on and off the Island of Ireland to both the UK and Europe, this additional capacity on the Dover – Calais route will significantly strengthen the capacity and reliability of the landbridge for exporters and importers.

Hauliers will now have one operator providing an inclusive service on the Dublin - Holyhead, Rosslare - Pembroke and Dover - Calais routes. This will allow exporters and importers easier, cheaper, and quicker access to our European markets via the Common Transit Convention.

It is intended to offer passenger services on the route. The initial level of passenger services offered will be dependent on the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Doug Bannister, Chief Executive, Port of Dover, said: “We are delighted to welcome Irish Ferries to Dover. This announcement gives the millions of customers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland who value the intrinsic benefits of the shortest sea crossing to Europe, the prospect of even more choice. We believe the inclusive landbridge product will be popular with Irish exporters and will strengthen the just in time supply chain into the European Union. This is a clear signal of market confidence in the Dover route and will complement the resilient services currently provided. We wish Irish Ferries every success and look forward to having them on the route in the summer and working together as part of the Dover team building the future success of the Short Straits.”

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, Chairman, Port of Calais, said: “the commencement of the service operated by Irish Ferries emphasises the strategic position of the port of Calais in the trade between Ireland, the United Kingdom and the continent. It is a clear sign of confidence just a few weeks before the opening of the new port of Calais

Published in Irish Ferries, 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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