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Irish Ferries have further responded to demands from hauliers and new competition from Stena by boosting freight capacity with a second ferry added onto the Dublin-Cherbourg service this weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat ascertained this development having observed the chartered ro-pax Epilson (170 freight units) depart Dublin Port on Friday afternoon with an outbound sailing to the mainland European port. It transpires based from the operator's freight website that the sailing took place earlier than scheduled due to the adverse weather conditions on the Irish Sea (see related story).

Further research revealed that Epsilon's sailing schedule on the direct Ireland-France involves a single round trip at the weekends. Whereas, during week-days the ropax resumes routine crossings on the Dublin-Holyhead service in tandem with the cruiseferry Ulysses.

Noting that the ferry sector is a constantly evolving scene given Brexit etc and so further changes in flexibilty of schedules can easily be expected. This can be due to operational reasons and market demand. 

As for the present, Epsilon this morning is making its inbound sailing to Dublin Port (due 12.00) from where yesterday evening Afloat also observed the route's other ship, the cruiseferry W.B. Yeats (165 freight units) depart in the reverse direction. Also this morning, this ferry is nearing completion of the crossing to the north France port in Normandy.

The move by Irish Ferries is set against the backdrop of rivals, Stena Line which made a first entry on to the Ireland-France route this month. This new service is operated by Stena Estrid, which likewise of Irish Ferries, makes a single round trip at weekends before returning to weekday based Dublin-Holyhead sailings joining Stena Adventurer.

This is about to change as next week Stena Line is to withdraw Stena Estrid from the Ireland-Wales service and onto the Irish capital-continental route and therefore increase sailings and capacity. In addition, the smaller capacity Stena Horizon is to take 'Estrid's place by transferring to the Dublin-Holyhead route having operated Rosslare-Cherbourg service (see: newcomer Brittany Ferries) also run by ro-ro freighter Stena Foreteller.

As reported earlier this month the transfer of W.B Yeats from Dublin-Holyhead to the Ireland-France route took place more than four months in advance than scheduled. This in response to the rapid surge demanded by hauliers wanting to avoid the UK land-bridge and resultant complications of customs clearance of a post-Brexit UK.

W.B. Yeats at more than 50,000 gross tonnage is the largest ferry operating out of Ireland but due to heavy seas the ferry took a 'weather route' which involved departing Dublin Bay via the Baily Lighthouse and onward to the Kish Lighthouse and further offshore to deeper waters.

Otherwise in more favourable weather, the ferry heads south out of Dublin Bay via the Muglins Lighthouse and along off the east coast sandbanks until around off Wicklow Head. From these waters the course veers further offshore and towards the centre of the St. Georges Channel.

With Stena adding to Irish Ferries services on the Dublin-Cherbourg route, they follow the original pioneer on the direct route first launched by P&O Ferries in 2003 using the ro pax European Ambassador. On occasions subject to freight traffic demands, the ro pax would make en route calls to Rosslare Europort but on the majority of occasions this involved an arrival from France.

In the second year of service, P&O opened the route up to 'foot' passengers which was welcomed and also on a personal basis having taken the inaugural crossing on this direct and convenient connection to the continent.

Published in Ferry

Ferry company owner Irish Continental Group has reported a 26% drop in revenues for the first 10 months of 2020 as the number of cars it carried on its ferries slumped by 66.8%.

In a trading update, ICG which operate Irish Ferries (services to the UK and France), said its revenues for the ten months to the end of October fell to €229m, a decrease of €79m on the same time last year.

ICG said its ferries division faced challenging trading conditions after the continuation of travel restrictions across the EU which were first introduced in the middle of March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that car volumes were down 66.8% to 122,700 from 369,700 the same time last year, with total passenger volumes down 68% compared with 2019.

ICG said this has had a material impact on passenger revenues, which were 71% lower in the year to October 31 compared to 2019.

But it added that its Irish Ferries ro-ro freight carryings have been more robust with retention of full freight schedules providing critical logistical links to the island of Ireland, with ro-ro freight carryings up 4% compared with 2019.

Further coverage from RTE News in addition a link to consult ICG's trading statement in full. 

Published in Ferry

Irish Ferries parent company Irish Continental Group has reported a drop in revenues and earnings for the first six months of the year amid a challenging background of depressed economic activity and travel restrictions imposed across the EU because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICG said this had led to a significant reduction in passenger traffic, however freight activity across the group has been less affected.

Revenues for the six months to the end of June decreased by 21.6% to €130.8m from €166.8m the same time last year, while EBITDA sank by 66.7% to €10m from €30m.

ICG, which owns Irish Ferries, posted a loss before tax of €11.2m compared with a profit before tax of €24.9m the same time last year.

The company said the trading conditions faced by the group since March, particularly in its passenger business, have been the most challenging encountered in its 32 year history.

More here RTE News reports on this story. 

Published in Ferry

Ferry and container operator Irish Continental Group (ICG) reported revenues fell more than 21 per cent in the first six months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic caused economies to shut down.

But the group, reports Irish Times, said it remained in a strong financial position to weather the Covid-19 storm.

The ferry company (Irish Ferries) said consolidated revenue for the six months to June 30th 2020 fell 21.6 per cent to €130.8 million, dragged lower by a 65 per cent decline in passenger volumes over the period. Net debt at the end of the period was €103.3 million, down from €129.0 million at the end of December 2019.

The ferries division showed a decline of more than 33 per cent, with revenue at €61.6 million for the year. Passenger cars were down 65 per cent to 56,600, compared with 161,200 a year earlier.

The container and terminal division saw a 6.6 per cent fall in revenues for the six months, as supply chains were disruption by Covid-19. Over the year to July 25th, container freight volumes were 10.5 per cent lower at 178,300 20-foot equivalent units, with units handled at the Dublin Port and Belfast Harbour (see: terminals) down 13.6 per cent year on year to 160,100 lifts.

For further reading click here

In addition Afloat adds to consult ICG's Trading Update (here) that was released today.

Published in Ferry

Passengers coming from Britain to the Republic and subjected to a two-week quarantine, at a time when Boris Johnson’s government has exempted Irish citizens from its own restrictions, puts the entire Common Travel Area at risk post-Brexit, according to the head of ferry operator Irish Continental Group (ICG).

ICG, owner of Irish Ferries, has seen passenger numbers slump 60 per cent so far this year amid Covid-19 travel restrictions, it said in a trading statement on Thursday.

As The Irish Times writes, the company has written to the Government arguing that a requirement that people travelling to the State should self-isolate for 14 days is not consistent in the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK government’s position that no such measures be taken by passengers travelling from the Republic to Britain.

“There is nothing to stop people from Britain visiting Ireland by transiting via Northern Ireland without the requirement to self-isolate, which is clearly anomalous,” ICG said.

Speaking to The Irish Times, ICG chief executive Eamonn Rothwell said: “The CTA is going to be very important to Ireland post-Brexit. We don’t want to risk the British people turning around and saying, ‘Hold on a sec, we’re letting Irish people travel to Britain but you’re forcing British people to go via Northern Ireland.’ There’s a risk that they’ll retaliate.”

The Government’s quarantine rules for travellers came into effect on May 28th and are due initially to last until June 18th. 

For more click here noting the reference to ICG's decision to cancel an order for a new Dublin-Holyhead ferry with a shipbuilder, after the German shipyard company filed for protection from its creditors in April.

Published in Ferry

Ferry operator, Irish Continental Group (ICG) has said its division, Irish Ferries experience passenger numbers slump by 60 per cent so far this year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The company, according to The Irish Times, also said in a trading statement that it has cancelled an order with shipmaker Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) to build a new vessel, after the German company filed for protection from its creditors in April.

ICG, led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, said that it has written to the Government arguing that a requirement that people travelling to the State should self-isolate for 14 days is not consistent in the Common Travel Area with the UK government’s position that no such measures be taken by passengers travelling from the Republic to Britain.

“There is nothing to stop people from Britain visiting Ireland by transiting via Northern Ireland without the requirement to self-isolate, which is clearly anomalous,” ICG said.

While ICG said that its freight business has remained relatively robust during the coronavirus pandemic, it is currently unable to estimate the full-year financial impact of the fall-off in passenger revenue. “The severity of this reduction in passenger revenue is dependent on the duration and nature of travel restrictions, particularly over the peak summer season,” it said.

Roll-on, roll-off freight volumes have fallen 4 per cent in the year to June 6th, while container volumes have dropped 13 per cent.

For more notably the cancellation to order a second newbuild cruiseferry click here.

Afloat adds the €165.2m newbuild for the Dublin-Holyhead route was based from the same design of W.B. Yeats of 54,975 gross tonnage (165 lorries) but larger at 67,300grt (330 lorries). This would enable the world's largest ferry with this level of freight capacity operate on the core Irish Sea route exclusively. 

Due to Covid-19, the W.B Yeats which Afloat reported yesterday had only resumed service on the Dublin-Cherbourg route in its role as the summer-operated cruiseferry. On Tuesday the cruiseferry began on the first round trip which was completed with an arrival to Dublin Port this morning. 

Prior to the return of W.B Yeats on the year-round operated route (by ropax Epsilon) to mainland Europe, W.B. Yeats as scheduled served the Dublin-Holyhead route with sailings over the winter months. Originally the cruiseferry was expected to re-enter the French route three months ago.  

Published in Ferry

Irish Continental Group, parent company of Irish Ferries has reported higher revenues and earnings for the year to the end of December, as its new ferry, the W.B.Yeats, came into service.

As according to RTE News, ICG's revenue for the year increased by 8.2% to €357.4m, while its earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rose by almost 27% to €86.8m from €68.4m.

Overall group operating profit (EBIT) for the year increased by 8.2% to €64.9m and the company said it is proposing a final dividend of 8.99 cent, an increase of 5%.

Shares in the company sailed over 4% higher in Dublin trade this morning.

For more including ICG's container shipping divisions click here.

Published in Ferry

Irish Continental Group, the parent company of Irish Ferries has reported revenue of €308.8m in the first ten months of 2019, an increase of 8.2pc on the same period last year.

As the Independent.ie writes, ICG said a "significant" proportion of the improvement came from the ferries division, on the back of improved scheduling reliability following major disruptions in 2018.

Despite this, it experienced "some volatility in carryings as key Brexit dates were approached and subsequently postponed".

The overall effect of this continuing uncertainty "is generating negative impact on consumer sentiment and trade flows as investment decisions are delayed".

For further reading click here. 

Published in Ferry

A total of eight ferry, aviation and rail firms have been approved to bid for British Government contracts to import vital medicines into the UK after Brexit.

Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the group as “high-quality and experienced” as he made the announcement.

His predecessor Chris Grayling faced calls to resign earlier this year after handing a £14 million contract to Seaborne Freight to run freight services, despite having no ships or trading history.

The eight firms appointed to a freight procurement framework are Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as aviation firm Air Charter Services and train operator Eurotunnel.

For more on the story click BreakingNews.ie

Published in Ferry

Exporters have generally welcomed next week’s changes to ferry timetables that, between Irish Ferries and Stena Line, will see a sailing from Ireland to Cherbourg every day of the week on alternating weeks, as AgriLand reports.

The change from next Monday 27 May will see Irish Ferries’s new and award-winning WB Yeats sail from Dublin to Cherbourg on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week, then Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the following week, and so on until the end of September.

Stena Line sails from Rosslare to Cherbourg every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, meaning that next week and every fortnight thereafter there will be a sailing once a day from Ireland to the French port.

The change is being seen as a positive one by exporters — however complaints remain over lack of dialogue from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. AgriLand has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry
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