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Displaying items by tag: P&O Ferries

The Port of Cork Company has announced that it is unlikely that the proposed new ferry service to Spain will commence in March, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The port authority has advised those waiting to book their holidays on the planned Cork-Gijón route, instead go ahead and make a booking with other ferry operators. 
Existing Cork based ferry services are provided by Fastnet Line to Swansea, with the first outward bound sailing from Cork on 5 March. The port also serves the continent with a Brittany Ferries outbound seasonal sailing on the Roscoff route resuming on 2 April.  

In addition to services running out of Rosslare operated by Celtic Link Ferries and Irish Ferries and the alternative option of landbridge connections to Europe via the UK.

In the meantime, the Port of Cork will continue to be in dialogue with potential operators and investor's, however in the current climate it is proving more challenging to establish the service. Yet both the port authorities in Cork and Gijon remain committed in establishing the first direct Irish-Iberia passenger ferry route, with an update on the Spanish service due in early June.

Since 2008 the port authorities of Cork and Gijón, through the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping and Co-Operation with Small Medium Enterprise's (Proppose) an EU Inter-Reg project, have conducted feasibility studies into the service.

Interest in the service to date, has shown interest from Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and Transfennica, a Scandinavian based operator. It was envisaged that a ro-pax type of vessel would operate the 24-hour route to Gijón in Asturias, the region which forms part of Spain's northern 'Green' coast.

The route across the Bay of Biscay would be an attraction to freight hauliers, saving mileage and reduced fuel costs in addition avoiding a weekend ban to trucks travelling through France.

Last summer the ro-pax Norman Bridge started a new route between Nantes / St. Nazaire (Montoir-de-Bretagne) and Gijón, operated by GLD Atlantique. This route received support through the EU 'Motorways of the Seas' (MOS) programme to divert vehicle traffic from congested road-infrastructure and transferred to designated shipping routes, using larger and faster ro-pax vessels.

The route's opening was marked with a declaration signed by Dominique Bussereau, the French Minister of State responsible for Transport and his Spanish counterpart Magdalena Alvarez of the first of two Franco-Spanish MOS concept routes, starting with the 14-hour GLD Atlantique service.

Published in Ferry

The cruiseferry, Pride of Bilbao, owned by the Irish Continental Group (ICG) made the last return sailing on the Portsmouth-Bilbao route, when the vessel
docked at the UK port yesterday (28 September), writes Jehan Ashmore.

Route operater P&O Ferries decided to close the Iberian service due to "unsustainable losses". The withdrawel of the twice weekly service has shed about 800 staff, though the future of 150 employees remains secured through internal transfer.

The service was launched in 1993 with the chartering of Pride of Bilbao. In the following year, the overnight cruiseferry, owned by Vilking Line was acquired by ICG (the parent company of Irish Ferries) and the vessel was re-registered in the Bahamas.

The vessel was placed under a British bare-boat register. The charter arrangement between P&O Ferries and ICG was extended for another five years in 2002 and again for a further three years from 2007. The final charter term remained valid up to the route closure.

Orginally the Pride of Bilbao was built for Scandinavian service as the Olympia in 1986. The newbuild was launched on Viking Line's Helsinki-Stockholm route and at the time the vessel was one of the largest overnight passenger capacity ferries in the world. At 37,583 tonnes the vessel has 2,553 passengers and space for 600 vehicles. In addition the cruiseferry has comprehensive facilities and a wide choice of cabin accommodation.

The closure of the Bilbao route is temporary as Brittany Ferries are to re-launch the route in Spring 2011. The French ferry company's existing Portsmouth - Santander route ferry, Cap Finistère will also provide two sailings weekly to Bilbao. In total the there will be five sailings weekly between the UK to Spain, two from Portsmouth to Santander and a single round-trip to Plymouth. Other vessels from the Brittany Ferries fleet will assist Cap Finistere on the three Spanish routes.

After 17 years plying the Bay of Biscay, the Pride of Bilbao is now freed-up providing new opportunities for the ICG vessel. Throughout the vessel's career
under ICG, the cruiseferry has only made a single visit to an Irish port. The ship was sub-chartered for a three-day Christmas mini-cruise to Dublin in 2004 starting and ending in Portsmouth. 

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 6 of 6

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