16 November 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Brittany Ferries – which services Ringskiddy Port, Co Cork amongst 11 others -has reported a surge in bookings for summer 2022. The ferry company has recently navigated a path through the two disastrous summer seasons brought about by Covid, and which resulted in passenger numbers in the doldrums. However, the increase in reservations for next summer has brought renewed optimism with the prospect of sunnier skies ahead.
In terms of breakdown by market, France- Ireland reservations for 2022 are currently up by 234% while even on the predominantly freight Spain- Ireland route passenger bookings are up by over 80%. UK-France reservations are up by 40 percent while on UK-Spain routes reservations rose by 35 percent.
Supporting Brittany Ferries
The wave of summer 2022 reservations follows welcome assistance from the French state. A grant of €45 million was recently authorised by Paris to compensate for passenger travel restrictions that caused Brittany Ferries’ turnover to plummet by €220m in 2020 alone. Alongside the grant, the French state announced a 10 million waiver for debt contracted with ADEME* and 6 million aid from the Brittany Region.
Furthermore, Brittany Ferries has welcomed the extension of net wage provisions for French sailors. Announced by president Macron at Les assises de l’économie de la Mer conference in September, this tax break has been extended for three years.
“The storm clouds are beginning to lift and I welcome the boost in reservations for next year,” said Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries. “We are so grateful to our loyal customers and, of course, to the French state for acknowledging our plight. The support of French government combined with the loyalty of our Irish and British customers will allow us to continue the beautiful voyage of this company.”
“Amid a renewed sense of optimism, I must also add a note of caution,” warned Mathieu. “We still have much work to do in the years ahead. We must not forget the €117 million loan granted last year, which we have to repay. Nor must we change our path on our internal project to maximise efficiencies. Called Vital, I am delighted that it has been embraced by our hard-working seafarers. To them I would like to reiterate the words of our president Jean-Marc Roué: we are absolutely committed to your future – and there will be no job losses as a consequence of this essential plan.”
Further good news for 2022 comes in the form of a brand-new ship. Brittany Ferries Salamanca will be the first vessel in the fleet to be powered by cleaner, greener liquefied natural gas (LNG). She will run on services connecting the UK with Spain and will join sister ship Galicia which joined the Brittany Ferries fleet in December last year.
Summer passenger volumes 2019, 2020 & 2021
Figures for the summer seasons of 2020 and 2021 underline just how difficult the last two years have been for Brittany Ferries and the size of the challenge ahead. Around 80 percent of the company’s income comes from passenger traffic and on some lines this dropped to virtually zero.
In total, the last two summer seasons combined drew in fewer than half of the passengers of a normal summer season (480k for 2020+2021 v 981k for 2019).
|2020||Up/down 2019 v 2020||2021||Up/down 2019 v 2021|
|St Malo – Portsmouth||124,484||31,059||-75%||31,656||-75%|
|Cherbourg – Poole||85,276||–||–||–||–|
|Cherbourg – Portsmouth||85,183||7,463||-91%||2,663||-97%|
|Caen – Portsmouth||294,339||101,036||-66%||88,850||-70%|
|Le Havre – Portsmouth||60,090||4,372||-93%||–||–|
|Total pax all lines||981,746||235,376||-76%||244,935||-75%|
*ADEME is a French state institution that helps companies transition to more environmentally friendly practices. For Brittany Ferries that included support to retro-fit exhaust emission scrubbers to six ships, cutting sulphur and particulate emissions from funnel gases
About Brittany Ferries
Brittany Ferries was born in 1972, starting operations as a freight-only service on 2nd January the following year. Since first links were forged between Brittany and Plymouth in the South West of England, the company has progressively launched, then strengthened its shipping routes. These are now relied upon by millions of passengers every year as well as by companies transporting goods by sea across the so-called Atlantic Arc (France, UK, Spain and Ireland). In addition to cutting congestion and emissions on busy roads, these motorways-of the sea have also helped enrich local communities, create jobs and develop economic growth while nurturing international tourism.
More details here: https://bit.ly/3kgA2Zs
Key figures (2020)
- Revenue: €202.4 million (€469 million in 2019)
- Fleet renewal: Four new vessels on the horizon, two powered by LNG entering service in 2022 and 2023; two LNG-hybrid powered ships arriving in the years that follow
- Employment: 2,474 employees, including 1,600 seafarers (full-time equivalent)
- Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (2,498,354 in 2019)
- Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (201,554 in 2019)
- 12 vessels connecting France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland, via 14 maritime routes
- 12 ports: Roscoff, Saint-Malo, Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Poole, Cork (Ringaskiddy), Rosslare, Santander, Bilbao.
- Tourist impact: 231,000 unique visitors to France, generating 2.6 million overnight stays in 2020 (857,000 in 2019 with 8.7 million overnight stays in 2019)