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Ferries and Ferry News from Ireland

#FERRY NEWS - The operators of the Celtic Sea ferry route between Cork-Swansea need to secure over €1m in investment today in order to save the company after being thrown a €300,000 funding lifeline by Cork's local authorities.

Cork City Council agreed last night to invest €100,000 in the Fastnet Line, bringing its total investment in the company to €365,000.

It followed a 90-minute behind closed doors presentation by Fastnet Line's acting chief executive officer, Pádraic O'Kane. He is due to meet Enterprise Ireland this morning to discuss further investment. He declined to discuss the amount involved, but it is understood to be in the region of €400,000.

Finance Wales will await the outcome of those talks before it agrees to pump up to €800,000 in to the firm. For more about this story in today's Examiner click HERE

Published in Ferry

#FERRY NEWS - Approximately €500,000 is to be sought from three local authorities in the south-west region so to help restart the Cork-Swansea route which was served by the M.V. Julia (1982/22,161grt) until sailings ceased in November last year.

Representatives from Fastnet Line Ship Holdings Ltd are expected to attend a special meeting of Cork County Council next Monday at which they will outline a business plan for the company, which is in examinership.

They will also address a scheduled meeting of Cork City Council later the same day and are expected to communicate their request to Kerry County Council shortly.

For more about this story in today's Examiner click HERE

Published in Ferry
#FERRY – Following yesterdays High Court appointment of an interim examiner to the Fastnet Line Group, the ferry operator has issued two statements (click here) and an apology to passengers with the immediate closure of sailings, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As part of the examinership process, a re-structured business plan has been implemented with the Cork-Swansea service set to resume in the shoulder months starting on Easter's Good Friday, 6th April 2012 and throughout the high-season months, and ending the season on 29th September.

The discontinued winter sailing schedule for this year is also expected not to be repeated during October 2012-March 2013. Fastnet Line's decision to make the Celtic Sea route into a shoulder season and summer only service follows a similar path taken by Stena Line which withdrew Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead (HSS) sailings in mid-September, for report click here. The central corridor route is due to reopen sometime in April or May 2012.

Cork City and County council and Kerry County council have provided €700,000 to support Fastnet Line and yesterday they announced an additional €150,000 in co-funding for the period of the examinership. In order to stabilise finances the ferry company are to radically reduce passenger capacity of the Julia (see photo) from 1,500 down to 950. This is in line with the capacities of the Julia serving 'night' sailings.

She has a crew predominately from Eastern Europe and Irish and UK deck officers. The Bermuda flagged, Hamilton registered vessel is currently berthed at Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal, Cork Harbour. At 154m she is the largest ferry to date capable of berthing in the limited confines of the swing basin in Swansea and with a draft of 5.8m in a port which is subject to a large tidal range on the Bristol Channel.

Operating costs on the 10 hour service has been severely hampered by continuing increases to world oil prices. From the year 2010 to this year, fuel costs rose by 27% and almost 50% from the original budget of 2009. The company claims that each crossing amounts to €18,560 alone in fuel costs.

Fastnet Line to date has carried 150,000 customers, of which 75% have originated from the UK market, generating on average €350 per person (€40m approx) exclusive of fare and on-board spend. This crucial market is core to the success of the company's direct 'gateway' route to scenic south-west Ireland, with Swansea connected to the M4 motorway linking midland population centres and London. The operator claims a saving of 600km driving based on a round trip compared to using rival ferries running on routes to Rosslare from Pembroke Dock and Fishguard.

Since the reinstatement of the service in March 2010, after Swansea Cork Ferries pulled the Superferry (photo) off-service in 2006, the loss to tourism generated revenue on both sides of the Celtic Sea was estimated to be £25m per annum according to the Welsh Assembly and a similar figure recorded in the Cork and Kerry region.

The company also outlines the reduction in carbon emissions saved from operating the only direct service specifically connecting the regions of Glamorgan and Munster. Some 500,000 freight miles alone were saved in the Welsh region since the service started instead of using alternative route running from Pembrokeshire ports.

Published in Ferry
A €750 million regeneration project at a city centre industrial site was unveiled in Cork on Wednesday and at its heart is an 800 berth marina. If it all goes ahead the new marina at Marina Commercial Park (MCP) will match the capactiy of the country's biggest marina on Dublin Bay. The project promises up to 1,200 construction jobs.

The redevelopment of the 24-acre Marina Commercial Park  in the heart of Cork city's docklands is expected to create 5,000 jobs once completed.

City manager Joe Gavin said: "This 24-acre site is at the heart of Cork's docklands and the announcement is a crucial step in realising Cork City Council's vision for the whole docklands area."

"It's a fantastic story in these bleak times and of course it would greatly add to boating in the south. It's also an example to the rest of the country of the opportunities that lie in city waterways", said David O'Brien of the Irish Marine Federation.

The proposed development features:

* More than 800 apartments, providing homes for up to 2,230 people.

* A marina where they can park their boats.

* A range of community amenities.

* A visitor and science centre, the Ford Experience, which is expected to attract up to 300,000 visitors annually.

* A new central plaza to provide a hub for the community, including a creche and library.

 

Published in Irish Marinas

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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