Brexit boost for ferry freight ser­vice to Spain

Enquiries for new route in­crease as uncer­tainty over Brexit deal in­ten­si­fies, writes Saman­tha Mc­caugh­ren

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

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