A message from our CEO
Over the last week I’ve received a number of emails from passengers, raising concerns about our ability to continue operating next year. I’d like to use my message today to reassure all those who have written to me directly, or who have contacted other teams.
To illustrate the point, I’ve taken an anonymised extract from a mail I received from a British customer, who owns a second home in France. I hope the writer won’t mind me quoting a key paragraph below.
“I have read reports in the media that say Brittany Ferries is bust and my husband and I are very concerned. We have been travelling with you for the last 20 years and I am writing from (name of village removed) in which we have found what we tell our children is our second family. It would be so sad if we have to say goodbye to all the wonderful friends we have made here as well as the life which has become such an important part of our retirement.”
I think this really emphasises two important points. Firstly, the links we have forged over the last forty seven years extend far, far beyond commercial benefits for our regions. They reach into the fabric of everyday lives - and we are very proud of that. Secondly, and more importantly, there is a need for me as CEO to make a clear public statement about the future for Brittany Ferries.
Certainly, our situation is a complicated one. It is not helped by some of the more sensationalist headlines that I’m sure the writer of the email quoted above has read. But the one thing I can tell you with absolute confidence is that Brittany Ferries will be operating next year. We will continue to serve destinations in the UK, France, Ireland and Spain next year.
I have mentioned in previous messages the cash injection we received in June. This loan from French banks, amounting to €117m, must be repaid in five years. It was necessary to carry us through the worst summer season in our history and repayment will not be easy. However, we have already taken steps to reduce our costs.
One of the ways we have done this is to cut routes this autumn, a painful but necessary first step. Another thing we have sought is a reduction in “social charges” payable for our French seafarers. So-called net wage provisions are applied by governments in Denmark and Italy and we have sought the same derogation from these taxes in France.
Last week the French government announced we would receive a one-year derogation. This will help as we negotiate the most acute phase of the crisis, which is getting through the 2020 autumn and winter period. In effect it guarantees next year for Brittany Ferries.
But it’s not enough for our long-term recovery and we will continue to lobby hard, as will the regions on our behalf. Of course, this is not the only thing we are doing to cut costs, but it is the thing that is generating the most media headlines. That, in turn, creates the kind of anxiety that I know many of you feel at this difficult time.
The waters are still extremely choppy. But we are far from sunk. Our business model is strong, we have new ships on order and we are determined to make 2021 our come-back season with as many routes operating as possible.
Next year is guaranteed. And I can assure you we are working hard to ensure we continue to serve you all in 2022 - and beyond.
CEO Brittany Ferries
Last updated: 21 September 2020