Britain’s UK ferry operators carried 8.61 million cars in 2015, up 1.3% on the previous year. Overall passenger figures on 75 ferry routes held up at 38.90 million, slipping just 0.6% from last year and still 800,000 up compared to the 38.1 million passengers of 2013. 2015 Ferrystat figures show that despite the much publicised disruption issues on the key Calais-Dover route last summer and the closure from July of MyFerrylink, overall continental ferry passengers were only down by 1%. Domestic routes forged ahead recording their best passenger figures since 2011, with other sectors like the Western Channel and Holland also recording strong increases in both car and passenger traffic.
Ferry routes to domestic destinations such as the Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Man, Channel Isles and Scottish Islands were the top performing sector up 2015, with total cars carried up 4.5% to 3.69m, and passengers up nearly 0.4% to 16m, the best domestic passenger figure since 2011. Within this sector the Isle of Wight ferry routes carried 1.2% more passengers at 8.74m and 3.4% more cars at 1.78m, and Scottish operator Cal Mac recorded a significant increase of 6.9% in car carryings, to 1.17m, offering both lifeline and visitor services to their multiple western isles destinations.
Total passengers carried by P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways on the short sea routes to Calais and Dunkirk were still over 13m in 2015 (13.01m), compared with 13.29m in 2014, a drop of 2.2%.Overall, however, continental passengers were down only 1%, from 18.32m in 2014 to 18.13m in 2015, as some passengers chose alternative ferry routes to the continent, resulting in good growth of 3.4% (2.94m passengers) on the Western channel routes to France principally served by Brittany Ferries, with cars carried up by 5.8% to 990,000 in 2015. North Sea ferry routes run by Stena, DFDS and P&O Ferries increased by 3.9% the number of cars carried to 445,000 in 2015, carrying the same number of passengers in 2015 as 2014 (2.18m). Passengers on the three Irish operators of Irish Ferries, Stena Irish Sea and P&O Ferries were marginally down by 1.9% from 4.87m in 2014 to 4.78m in 2015.
“The 2015 figures show the ferry industry is resilient and adaptable” said Discover Ferries’ director Bill Gibbons, “Domestic ferry routes carried nearly 16million passengers -their best year since 2011 and despite the summer issues at Calais last year P&O Ferries’ and DFDS operators adapted their capacity and sailings to great effect, and other continental ferry operators took up any car customers who were able to re-route. In perspective, ferry sailings to the Continent were down 8.5%, but passenger numbers in this sector only fell by 1%.
“Ferries also took other challenges in their stride in 2015, including the Government’s introduction of exit checks and significant investment required by new fuel emissions regulations. With ferry routes to northern Spain; Holland; the western Channel to France; the Isle Of Wight; and Isles of Scilly all showing healthy passenger gains, it demonstrates the broad reach and appeal of the ferry industry and how operators can work together in challenging times. We expect a further surge in customer interest when the industry comes together again to promote National Ferry Fortnight (March 5-19) with offers to appeal to ferry first timers, and those trying a new ferry route with their car for the first time”