Ferry & Car Ferry News The Irish Sea ferry industry is like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers , charterers who all help provide a network of routes operated by a variety of vessels designed for different but similar purposes.
All of this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, âro-paxâ, where the main design of the vessel is to carry more cargo capacity than passengers. This is in some cases however, in total contradiction to the fast boats where they carry a lot more passengers and charge a premium.
In reporting the ferry scene, we take a look at the ever-changing trends in this industry, as rival ferry operators compete in an intensive environment, battling for market share in the fallout from the economic downturn. All this has consequences that some feel immediately, while sometimes the effects can be prolonged in time, leading to the detriment of others, through reduced competition or a takeover, or even a complete suppression of the market, as has been the case. the case in recent years.
Due to these difficult times there are of course winners and losers, as evidenced by the tendency to use high speed ferries only during the high season summer months and on shorter routes. Moreover, where fastcraft once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days of the mid-90s, they were replaced by recent newcomers in the form of ‘fast ferry’ and with increased levels of luxury, but appearing to be forming as a profitable alternative.
Regardless of the type of vessel deployed on the Irish Sea routes (between 2 and 9 hours), it is the ferry companies that turn the wheels of the industry, as freight vehicles literally (roll- on and roll-off) ships coupled with motorized tourists and the humble passenger “on foot” carried 363 days a year.
As such, the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trade routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight transport customer is the ‘king’ to generate year-round revenue for the ferry operator. However, the custom built tonnage brought into service in recent years has exceeded the capacity level of the Irish Sea in some areas of the freight market.
A prime example of the necessity of commerce that we consumers often look to on a daily basis, though we no doubt wonder how it got to our shores, is the delivery of perishable goods just in time to fill our supermarket shelves.
A visual manifestation of this is the arrival each morning and evening at our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-ro ships and fast boats all descend at the same time. Essentially, this is a marine version of our rush hour highway traffic in and out along the suburban belts.
Across the Celtic Sea, coverage of the ferry scene also includes direct overnight ferry routes from Ireland connecting the northwest French ports to Brittany and Normandy.
Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be predominantly between February and November, but this in no way lessens competition from operators.
Noting that it has been planned over the years to operate a direct Irish-Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing markets and develop new freight markets. If a direct service were to open up, it would also bring new opportunities to holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers … heading for the sun!