(10 November 2021)
Brittany Ferries has reported a surge in reservations for travel next summer. The ferry company has recently navigated a path through two disastrous summer seasons, as Covid-19 consigned passenger numbers to the doldrums. However, the boost for summer 2022 has brought renewed optimism and the prospect of sunnier skies ahead.
By the end of October 2021, 188,878 passengers had booked travel for the period July to September 2022. That’s 48 percent more than the 127,517 who had booked for the 2020 summer season – at the end of October 2019 (the last pre-Covid comparison year).
In terms of breakdown by market, UK-France reservations were up 40 percent. On UK-Spain routes reservations rose by 35 percent while France-Ireland soared 234 percent.
Supporting Brittany Ferries
This positive news for Brittany Ferries follows welcome assistance from the French state. A grant of €45 million was recently authorised by Paris to compensate for passenger travel restrictions that caused Brittany Ferries’ turnover to plummet by €220m in 2020 alone. Alongside the grant, the French state also announced a 10 million waiver for debt contracted with ADEME* and 6 million aid from the Brittany Region.
Furthermore, Brittany Ferries has welcomed the extension of so-called “net wage” provisions for French sailors. Announced by president Macron at Les assises de l’économie de la Mer conference in September, this tax break has been extended for three years.
“The storm clouds are beginning to lift and I welcome the boost in reservations for next year,” said Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries. “We are so grateful to our loyal customers and, of course, to the French state for acknowledging our plight. The support of French government combined with the loyalty of our British and Irish customers will allow us to continue the beautiful voyage of this company.”
“Amid a renewed sense of optimism, I must also add a note of caution,” he added. “We still have much work to do in the years ahead. For example, we must not forget the €117 million loan granted last year, which we have repay. Nor must we change path on our internal project to maximise efficiencies. Called Vital, this has been embraced by our hard-working seafarers. To them I would like to reiterate the words of our president Jean-Marc Roué: we are absolutely committed to your future – and there will be no job losses as a consequence of this essential plan.”
Further good news for 2022 comes in the form of a brand-new ship. Brittany Ferries Salamanca will be the first vessel in the fleet to be powered by cleaner, greener liquefied natural gas (LNG). She will run on services connecting the UK with Spain and will join sister ship Galicia which joined the Brittany Ferries fleet in December last year.
Summer passenger volumes 2019, 2020 & 2021
Figures for the summer seasons of 2020 and 2021 underline just how difficult the last two years have been for Brittany Ferries, as well as the size of the challenge ahead. Around 80 percent of the company’s income comes from passenger traffic and on some lines this dropped to virtually zero.
In total, the last two summer seasons combined drew in fewer than half of the passenger volumes of a pre-Covid summer season (480k for 2020+2021 v 982k for 2019).
|Passengers July-Sep||2019 (pre-Covid)||2020||Up/down 2019 v 2020||2021||Up/down 2019 v 2021|
|St Malo – Portsmouth||124,484||31,059||-75%||31,656||-75%|
|Cherbourg – Poole||85,276||–||–||–||–|
|Cherbourg – Portsmouth||85,183||7,463||-91%||2,663||-97%|
|Caen – Portsmouth||294,339||101,036||-66%||88,850||-70%|
|Le Havre – Portsmouth||60,090||4,372||-93%||–||–|
|TOTAL PAX ALL LINES||981,746||235,376||-76%||244,935||-75%|
*ADEME is a French state institution that helps companies transition to more environmentally friendly practices. For Brittany Ferries that included support to retro-fit exhaust emission scrubbers to six ships, cutting sulphur and particulate emissions from funnel gases.