Marine At­lantic AGM.

Ferry traf­fic in­creases again.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY ROSALYN ROY Twit­ter: @tyger­lylly

Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and ferry traf­fic are both on an up­swing, ac­cord­ing to Marine At­lantic.

The Crown cor­po­ra­tion is hold­ing its 2017 an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in St. John’s to­day.

“For me the high­light was the fact that we had our pas­sen­ger traf­fic grow two years in a row, back to back, and that’s the first time that’s hap­pened in about 20 years,” Marine At­lantic pres­i­dent and CEO Paul Grif­fin told the Gulf News via phone in­ter­view.

The meet­ing cov­ered a va­ri­ety of top­ics in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial state­ments, cor­po­rate and share­holder in­vest­ment, in­fra­struc­ture up­grades and busi­ness change, cus­tomer ser­vice ini­tia­tives and fleet re­newal.

Marine At­lantic re­ported rev­enue of $ 111.7 mil­lion, while the ser­vice cost $ 209.4 mil­lion to op­er­ate. The fed­eral sub­sidy, cur­rently be­ing chal­lenged by Oceanex in fed­eral court, pro­vided an­other $94 mil­lion, and Marine At­lantic re­ported achiev­ing a 70 per­cent cost re­cov­ery, which falls within the tar­geted range as directed by the Gov­ern­ment of Canada.

Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with the ferry ser­vice con­tin­ues to im­prove. Marine At­lantic re­ported sat­is­fac­tion lev­els were now at 77 per­cent dur­ing the year com­pared to just 51 per cent in 2010.

Grif­fin at­tributes the higher vol­umes and greater cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion to four fac­tors, start­ing with the higher traf­fic ca­pac­ity of The Blue Put­tees and The High­landers com­pared to their pre­de­ces­sors.

“They can just carry a lot of traf­fic,” said Grif­fin. “If we have any weather is­sues we can clean it up in no time flat.”

Grif­fin said 91 per cent on­time per­for­mance rates of the two ships, cou­pled with their 99 per cent re­li­a­bil­ity record, has also played an im­por­tant part.

Marine At­lantic also ran some strate­gic mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, of­fer­ing dis­counts and gas cards, to en­tice pas­sen­gers.

The fourth and most im­por­tant fac­tor is what em­ploy­ees are do­ing on the front lines, said Grif­fin. “We get lots and lots of pos­i­tive feed­back from our cus­tomers, and the vast ma­jor­ity is about that face-to-face, one-on-one in­ter­ac­tion that our cus­tomers have with our front-line em­ploy­ees, and they stepped up in a big way.”

New cus­tomer ser­vice up­grades are in the works to con­tinue that trend, along with plans to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture.

“We’re mak­ing some im­prove­ments to our docks,” said Grif­fin. “We’re im­prov­ing our fend­er­ing sys­tems. We’re putting in place a new moor­ing sys­tem which will make op­er­a­tions safer and more ef­fi­cient. “We’ve up­graded the storm sewer at Port aux Basques. We had some is­sues there in the past, so we cleaned that up.”

Other ini­tia­tives for busi­ness cus­tomers are in the works, and Marine At­lantic will con­tinue to pro­mote pro­vin­cial tourism, like it did with last year’s pop­u­lar Ex­plorer cam­paign.

“That ad re­ally dove­tails with some of the re­search the prov­ince did that de­scribes many of the tourists that come here as ex­plor­ers,” said Grif­fin. “We did a lot of pro­mo­tion in our tra­di­tional mar­kets, plus in On­tario and Québec, be­cause they are grow­ing mar­kets for us.”

The cur­rent drive to push New­found­land as a tourist des­ti­na­tion is sim­ply a win-win for the prov­ince’s econ­omy and Marine At­lantic’s sus­tain­abil­ity, he said. The past two years of growth is some­thing Grif­fin would like to see con­tin­ued.

“The prov­ince ob­vi­ously sees a huge op­por­tu­nity in the tourism in­dus­try and I think that we’re well po­si­tioned to not only take ad­van­tage of that, but also to as­sist.”


For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, Marine At­lantic re­ported that the num­ber of pas­sen­gers us­ing the ferry ser­vice has in­creased.

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