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Displaying items by tag: RoPax

DFDS Seaways recent announcement to close its operations on the Irish Sea this month is a major blow considering the Danish company entered the Irish-UK ferry market only six-months ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin-Birkenhead (Liverpool) and freight-only Dublin-Heysham service is to close at the end of this month. Up to 200 staff are to lose their jobs of which 48 are shore-based positions in Dublin Port. DFDS cite its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea operations due to the sharp decline in the economies of both countries in 2008 and 2009 and the issue of over-capacity.

The routes represented a fifth of the freight market and will result in the withdrawal of the twin 21,856grt passenger ferry (ro-pax) sisters, Dublin Viking and Liverpool Viking on the 7-hour Mersey route and the 13,000grt freighter Anglia Seaways on the route to Lancashire.

In recent years, new tonnage notably in the form of four freight-only newbuilds commissioned for Seatruck Ferries on their Warrenpoint-Heysham and Dublin-Liverpool routes has added to intense competition in a crowded north Irish Sea ferry-freight sector.

The process to purchase Norfolkline's Irish Sea operations by DFDS Seaways was finally completed in mid-summer of last year. The acquisition saw the Scandinavian newcomer take control of four routes between Birkenhead-Belfast / Dublin and the freight-only Heysham-Belfast / Dublin services and a fleet of seven vessels, four (ro-pax) ferries and three freight-only vessels.

DFDS Seaways latest decision is all the more dramatic as the company in early December then sold both Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham to Stena Line. In addition the £40m acquisition included the sale of the chartered 27,510 ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways and the 13,000grt freighter half-sisters, Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways. The deal is significant in that Stena will make an inaugural foothold on the Merseyside market.

With the sea-changes swirling in the Irish Sea market, the dominant player is with out doubt Stena Line. The ferry operator closed late last year the Larne-Fleetwood route and three vessels (for more information about those vessels click here) yet the inclusion of the former DFDS Belfast-Heysham route is closely similar with neighbouring ports and newer larger vessels.

The acquisition by Stena of the loss making routes from DFDS last month also coincided with a review to be conducted by the Danish companies remaining Dublin routes to Birkenhead and Heysham. The findings of that review were concluded with this months' decision by DFDS to close down the routes, marking the Scandinavians operators brief foray on the Irish Sea ferry scene.

Published in Ports & Shipping
20th December 2010

Stena Route To Close This Week

Only several days remain before Stena Line close the Larne-Fleetwood route. The 8-hour route was operated by a trio of sister-ships, until the Stena Leader was withdrawn last week in advance of the service which is due to end on 23 December.

The Stena Leader went to lay-up in Belfast. In the meantime the remaining vessels Stena Seafarer and Stena Pioneer continue to serve the Northern Ireland-Lancashire link.When the route closes, it is expected that the pair will re-join the Stena Leader in Belfast, where all three sisters will be at lay-up berth at Albert Quay. The Swedish owned ferry operator uses the port's Victoria Terminal 4, for their HSS and conventional ferry service to Stranrear, Scotland.

In early December Stena Line announced the acquisition of two routes and four vessels from rivals, DFDS Seaways. The £40m deal sees Stena taking over the freight-only route between Belfast and Heysham operated by Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways, a pair of Japanese built 13,000 gross tonnes vessels.

The second route is the Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route, served by two chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax sisters, Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. The ro-pax vessels will be sold to Stena Line as part of the agreement between the two ferry operators.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 3 of 3

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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