Good news at last

Hello from an autumnal Finistère,

I am delighted to be able to share some good news, to help brighten the darker evenings ahead.

You will recall that a couple of years ago we became the part-owner of Condor Ferries. I am sure you are familiar with their operation but just in case you aren’t: our friends at Condor run lifeline freight and passenger ferry services connecting the UK and France with the Channel Islands.

Our partnership is not just about ownership and shareholding however. Respective teams have been working together throughout the Covid crisis to find mutually-beneficial ways to operate more efficiently together.

Brittany Ferries is committed to fast-ferry operations connecting the UK with France and, thanks to Condor, we will be in a position to re-start these services in 2022.

Condor’s high-speed service, Liberation, will be chartered to us for certain sailings between May and September connecting Portsmouth and Poole with Cherbourg. Full details of the schedule can be accessed here, but I am delighted that this option is back on the menu.

Recent November sunshine has certainly brought out some terrific autumnal colours here in Brittany and been a welcome salve following some considerable weather disruption to our schedules in October.

Fair weather reigned recently however in Santander where I was hosting the annual Interferry conference, (a regular global get-together for the entire ferry sector). It was such a proud moment for me - and for my team at Brittany Ferries - presenting the best of this glorious destination to 260 delegates from across the globe.

It was also eye-opening to hear research commissioned by Interferry, collated by London-based agency LEK and presented at the event. Did you know for example that ferries deliver around £8bn annually to European Gross Domestic Product, which is around 17% of the total contribution made by shipping? And that 109,000 jobs are with ferry companies, 16% of the total attributable to shipping?

We might say that ferry companies aren’t just delivering the goods in time of crisis or the people across borders in sunnier times. They deliver significant value to economies on a local, national and international level. As the director of Discover Ferries Abby Penlington said in a press statement recently: “Our member companies are the arteries that run across water, maintaining the flow of essential goods and services, boosting employment and wealth, while offering passengers a real alternative to flying.” Absolutely spot on.

Talking of alternatives to flying, there was also one other part of the LEK research that caught my eye at Interferry. This was a sentiment analysis based on nearly 3 million social media posts made by individuals pre- and post-Covid.

Each post featured either one the five international ferry operators in the UK (P&O, Stena, DFDS, Irish Ferries & Brittany Ferries) or the airlines easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways.

The conclusions were very interesting in terms of sentiment expressed. There was a significant increase in posts expressing joy in ferry travel post-Covid and a significant reduction in posts expressing fear. The opposite was true for the airlines on both measures. This is not intended to be an exercise in airline bashing, but is an intriguing and reassuring analysis of what’s being said, today through social media channels.

For this, and several other reasons, I believe there has never been a better time for the ferry sector to puff out its chest. We are here, we are big players and we are what customers are looking for in the post-Covid world.

Combine these factors with the fabulous destinations we at Brittany Ferries serve and I hope you too will agree that longer term prospects for ferry travel generally and Brittany Ferries specifically look brighter and brighter.

Stay safe

Christophe Mathieu

CEO, Brittany Ferries

Last updated: 30 November 2021