At Ferry Shipping Summit & News we hope that you are all well, despite the actual situation. It is certainly not easy to navigate in these uncharted waters. However, the history shows that our strategically important industry has survived difficult conditions before. Change is the only constant.

Last week we asked 20 leading ferry and port executives to answer anonymously a simple poll about the future of our sector.

All participants agree that we shall see more mergers, acquisitions and take-overs. The operators with strong balance sheets will ultimately be the winners.

A majority believes that,

  • the European production industry will look for a less vulnerable supply chain of components in or near Europe. It will create new opportunities for the logistic- and freight ferry sectors.
  • the ferry industry will see an increase in freight orientation. (more ro than pax)
  • this will lead to a significant increase of tonnage on the second-hand market, especially the older, inefficient ropax units.
  • the strategic State support of lifeline operations will increase, including international routes. Our observers expect the EU to play a coordinating role.
  • during the next one to three years motorist holidays will increase. People will want to take short breaks by car, rather than by plane.

Half of the participants to our mini poll believe in some kind of health checks and/or medical certificates. They might be needed for a limited amount of time. A ‘Corona-Safe Protocol’ will be needed to get back to decent passenger volumes, especially on the longer routes.

This might lead to more complex check in procedures in passenger and car terminals.

Smart time-efficient systems and digital solutions will be of paramount importance. Question: who will pay?

An important revenue on Scandinavian ferries comes from the conferences and party cruises. Some of our participants think it will take some time to rebuild this segment.

Conclusion: the answers clearly contain both opportunities and challenges.