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, all helping to provide a network of routes operated by a variety of vessels designed for different though similar purposes.
All of this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, “ro-pax”, where the main design of the vessel is to carry more cargo capacity than passengers. However, in some cases this is completely different from the fast ferry craft 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 after the fallout from the economic downturn. All of this has consequences that some feel immediately, while sometimes the effects can continue over time, costing others, through less competition or takeover or even complete withdrawal from the market. as we have seen in recent years.
As a result of this difficult time, 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. Furthermore, where the fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90s they were replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the ‘fast ferry’ and with luxury levels increased, but appearing to be forming. as a cost effective alternative.
Regardless of the type of vessel deployed on the Irish Sea routes (between 2 and 9 hours), it is the ferry companies that move the wheels of the industry as freight vehicles literally (roll- on and roll-off) coupled with motor tourists and the humble passenger “on foot” carried 363 days a year.
As such, Exclusive Freight Operators provide important trade routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight transport customer is ‘king’ to generate year round revenue for the ferry operator. . However, the bespoke tonnage brought into service in recent years has exceeded the capacity level of the Irish Sea in some areas of the freight market.
Delivering perishable goods just in time to fill our supermarket shelves is a prime example of the need for a trade that we consumers often look to on a daily basis, though we no doubt wonder how it got to our shores. .
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 ports in northwestern France to Brittany and Normandy.
Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be mostly open between February and November, but this in no way lessens competition from operators.
Noting that there have been plans over the years to operate a direct Irish-Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing freight markets and develop new ones. If a direct service were to open up, it would also bring new opportunities for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers … en route to the sun!