Brexit boost for ferry freight service to Spain
Enquiries for new route increase as uncertainty over Brexit deal intensifies, writes Samantha Mccaughren
BRITTANY Ferries is to offer a year-round service out of Ireland for the first time as demand from hauliers for new routes to Europe increases ahead of Brexit.
Following the launch of a new Cork-toSantander route this year, Brittany Ferries has introduced a new winter sailing schedule designed to facilitate its freight traffic from Ireland to Spain.
The company said freight figures since the introduction of the new Cork-to-santander route had been “encouraging”, with nearly 2,600 freight units carried to date and with demand rising significantly in the last month.
The change in schedule has been made in order to make the route more amenable to transporters in Ireland.
Brittany Ferries group freight director Simon Wagstaff said that the company would prefer to see developments which bring down barriers to trade between the UK and Europe rather than putting them up, but that Brexit may deliver additional traffic.
“The route has been an ambition for many years, long before the term Brexit was even coined,” he said.
But he said hauliers are looking at new export routes given that there may be difficulties with the UK landbridge option.
“We are getting an awful lot of enquiries and I think that has accelerated over the past couple of weeks where news out of Westminster is less positive than it was a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“We consulted with hauliers, who unanimously fed back that they would like to see later evening departures to allow time to travel to the port. This in turn allows for an earlier start in Santander for the onward journey.
“As Brexit uncertainty continues, our new service provides a guaranteed connection for exporting freight from Ireland directly to mainland Europe, allowing freight carriers and passengers to bypass the UK and French landbridge to Spain. We’ve had an encouraging start to the change in schedule, but time will tell.”
In the past month, demand has strengthened, possibly due in part to the fact that customers now know the route is here for the longer term, he added.
Port of Cork chief commercial officer Conor Mowlds said: “Freight figures to date using this Ropax service are very encouraging and the new schedule will help boost further freight during the winter season.
“With Brexit negotiations developing weekly, the option for freight carriers to bypass the UK landbridge will be even more attractive and we are committed to working closely with Brittany Ferries to ensure this route continues to be a success.”