Brittany Ferries: long routes have surged forwards but Channel is a concern

By | 2022 Newsletter week 44 | No Comments

Brittany Ferries has published figures outlining passenger and freight performance for its financial year (November to October).


Freight struggled to recover 2019 levels: -27% on UK-France routes, and -22% on UK-Spain. Brexit border controls have played a role in this trend.

Freight France-Ireland and Ireland-Spain are welcome exceptions to the downward trend.

Brexit opportunities: new services have been launched connecting France directly with Ireland, exploiting what operators call The Brexit by-pass. Volumes have risen more than six-fold to 9,587 units.

Ireland-Spain has also posted positive results. Freight volumes rose 172% to 13,644 units, with an accelerating trend towards unaccompanied or driverless loads. These now comprise 45% of the total carried.


Volumes on Channel routes are a concern. The post-Brexit imposition of passports for French passengers visiting the UK has dramatically hit this side of the BF business. “What is needed now is a concerted push from tourist bodies in France and the UK to boost tourism volumes,” says CEO Christophe Mathieu.

Long routes have seen a significant increase in passenger numbers.
This has helped Brittany Ferries record a positive financial performance for the year.

“While our long routes have surged forwards, the Channel is a real concern for Brittany Ferries and our partners,” said Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu.

Brittany Ferries says it is optimistic for the year ahead. Forward reservations are positive, and there are no barriers to passengers crossing borders, as there were in France at the beginning of 2022.

Fleet renewal continues apace

  • Launched in March 2022, Salamanca is the first of four Brittany Ferries vessels to be powered by LNG as part of investment in fleet renewal. She will operate throughout the winter and into next summer on the Cherbourg and Bilbao to Rosslare routes. The aim is to grow by 50,000 the number of holiday makers sailing between Ireland and Spain.
  • A second LNG-powered vessel called SANTOÑA will join the fleet in March next year. She too will be based in Portsmouth.
  • SANTOÑA will be followed by two LNG-electric hybrid vessels in 2024/2025, replacing two of the longest serving ships in the fleet BRETAGNE (1989) and NORMANDIE (1992). The hybrids will call Portsmouth home, and will serve St Malo in Brittany and Caen in Normandie.

Fuel cost and government actions: Color Line removes two ships

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Color Line has decided to end the operation of ropax COLOR VIKING on the Sandefjord-Strømstad route and roro COLOR CARRIER on the Oslo-Kiel route.

Strong price growth has led to a significant increase in the costs of fuel, shore power and commodity costs, while at the same time important framework conditions have been weakened. This particularly applies to the subsidy scheme for Norwegian seafarers, and in the proposal for the national budget for 2023, a further weakening of the scheme is proposed. In addition, the government proposes to further reduce the scope of the tax-free scheme, this time by halving the tax-free quota on tobacco for residents of Norway.

Both COLOR VIKING and COLOR CARRIER will be put up for sale in the global market.

Color Line says it will seek to minimize the number of redundancies through redeployment to other ships in the fleet and by offering voluntary schemes.

Finnlines’ Financial review January–September 2022

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Key figures

  • +31% Revenue EUR 558.4 million
  • +42% Result EUR 105.2 million
  • EBITDA, amounted to EUR 169.2 (121.2 in 2021) million.
  • Financial performance has improved although consumer and business confidence has been hit by the war in Ukraine, accelerating inflation and soaring energy costs.
  • Considering the economic instability, freight volumes have been fairly good during the first three quarters of 2022.

Finnlines introduced three new Eco-class hybrid roro vessels, which operate on the route Bilbao–Zeebrugge/Antwerp–Travemünde–Helsinki/Kotka.

In July, Finnlines launched a new freight route between Rosslare, Ireland, and Zeebrugge, Belgium, providing an important link between Ireland and rest of Europe. This line was highly welcomed by the market and, therefore, a smaller ro-ro vessel was quickly replaced by a larger vessel with nearly 4,200 lane metres for cargo.

The EUR 500 million investment programme includes two Superstar ro-pax vessels in addition to the three hybrid ro-ro vessels already in service. Both vessels will have capacity to carry 1,100 passengers, which is about twice the capacity of the existing ro-pax vessels on the route. The cargo capacity will increase from just over 4,000 lane metres in the current vessels to 5,200 lane metres. The new vessels will start operating on the Naantali–Långnäs–Kapellskär route in autumn 2023.

FINNSIRIUS and FINNCANOPUS will significantly enhance the passenger experience