- As from June 15, La Méridionale will offer 3 weekly departures between Marseille and Tanger Med.
- Ships: GIROLATA and PELAGOS
- Sailing each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from each port
No surprise: the Corsican Assembly has voted to attribute the 5 subsidised ferry lines to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale. (public service contract).
Route 1: Marseille – Ajaccio: Corsica Linea & La Méridionale
Route 2: Marseille – Bastia: Corsica Linea
Route 3: Marseille – Portovecchio: Corsica Linea
Route 4: Marseille – Propriano: La Méridionale
Route 5: Marseille – Ile-Rousse: Corsica Linea
Period: 1 March 2021 – 31 December 2022
Earlier it was reported that Corsica Ferries’ offer was rejected (because of “non-compliance of the offer”).
La Méridionale‘s opens the previously announced Marseille-Tangier-Marseille route on 14 November with 3 sailings each way per week, using the GIROLATA and PELAGOS.
Suardiaz Group is going to launch a roro line between Tangier Med and Barcelona on 7 November.
It will run twice weekly and be able to transport all types of cargo, but especially textile, fruit and vegetables, distribution, retail and spare parts for the automotive industry.
CMA CGM started a service between Tangier and Marseille in 2017, but this was short-lived.
STEF-owned ferry company La Méridionale announced the cancelation of 90 agreements regarding terms of employment. All the agreements will be renegotiated with the unions, both for the crews and the shore staff. This should be done by the end of the year.
The fact that the company lost the major Corsican ports in the 15-month transitional contract (to Corsica Linea) did not help the finances, especially not together with the pandemic.
However, owner STEF is a strong logistics group.
La Meridionale also bought PELAGOS (DFDS – LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS – EUR 30,6 million) before Covid. The ship is still laid up in Le Havre.
Public Service Contract for Corsica: What’s Up?
In January 2020, Corsica Linea and La Méridionale submitted a joint application for the public service contract for the links with Corsica. (Ferry Shipping News)
This new contract should start on 1 January 2021 (until end of 2027), but so far, no decision has been taken.
Two ongoing investigations are disrupting the decision schedule:
- Investigating the creation of a SEMOP (a company owned 50.1% by Corsican authorities and 49.9% by private operators). French Competition Authority is investigating its impact on competition and will deliver its advice to the Government in October.
- Investigation launched by the European Commission on 28 February 2020, about the allocation to Corsica Linea of rotations between Marseille and Bastia, Ajaccio and L’Ile-Rousse as part of the ongoing contract. European Commission must deliver its conclusions by the end of 2020.
Corsica Linea and La Méridionale have finally agreed to join forces for the public service contract for maritime services between Marseille and Corsica, from 1 January 2021 till 31 December 2027.
Right on time, because the deadline was 14 February 2020.
In this common project, Corsica Linea would have an exclusivity for the port of Bastia (source: Le Journal de la Marine Marchande). Remember, before, La Méridionale used to operate ropax PIANA on this route.
Since 10 January a strike is immobilising all Marseille – Corsica ferry operations. The unions want to have guarantees for jobs at La Méridionale, and they want the ships to be able to sail on the two main routes, Ajaccio and Bastia. The strike is also related to the countrywide protest against Macron’s pension reform plan.
From what we understand, this year’s public service contract, which runs until 31 December 2020, will be divided in two periods, from now until end of April, and from May until the end of the year. For the second part a new tender will be issued.
Since 10 January unions from La Méridionale are on strike. They started a blockade, affecting two of their ferries and three from Corsica Linea.
What they want is an agreement for a new cooperation between La Méridionale and Corsica Linea, to operate the Corsica routes together, as in the past.
They fear that La Méridionale will have to close business. The company lost the two most important routes, Bastia and Ajaccio, which has the highest number of freight.
On 9 January, a new call for operators for the secondary routes (Marseille – Propriano and Marseille – Porto Vecchio) has been launched, for a temporary public service contract until end of 2020. Why? Because the ‘Office des Transports Corse’ deemed that the estimated capacities were wrong, after recalculating them. They say that on Porto-Vechio 220,000 lane metres are needed, whilst only 160,000 have been foreseen. It is the other way around in Propriano, where 66,000 is enough, against 96,000 planned.
There is a lot of criticism on this cancellation of the previous public service contract, “as if the rules of the game were changed during the game.”
DANIELLA CASANOVA has been diverted to Toulon. However, when the ship arrived in Ajaccio on Monday evening, the unions decided not to let her disembark passengers. DANIELLE CASANOVA and MEGA ANDREA have been rerouted to Propriano, where the port was guarded by police.
The crisis comes at a time when tourists start to think about their summer holidays.
Corsica Linea also had to cancel the crossings to Tunisia and Algeria.
Unconfirmed information claims that Grimaldi Lines intends to charter the ropax GIROLATA of the French company La Méridionale. The former Minoan Line’s ARETOUSA, has left the Marseilles – Corsica route after the French company was not chosen to operate the public service.
She might return to the Adriatic Sea in order to replace the Grimaldi Group’s ships that will have exhaust gas cleaning systems units installed.
The charter period is likely to begin in November, until spring 2020. To be confirmed.
As expected, DFDS agreed to sell ro-pax LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS to La Méridionale.
LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS is currently deployed in DFDS’ Baltic route network and is planned to be replaced by a ferry from DFDS’ existing fleet.
Completion of the sale is agreed for April 2020 with proceeds of around DKK 200m and an expected accounting profit of around DKK 100m to be recorded under Special items.
Corsica Very Worried About the Strike at the Beginning of the Holiday Season
La Méridionale is on strike and unions block the port of Marseille.
The industrial action started six days ago. Two ships from La Méridionale and three ships from Corsica Linea are currently blocked.
The reason is the fact that La Méridionale has been excluded from the latest DSP, at least from three of the five ports. The main ones!
La Méridionale, traditionally a partner of Corsica Linea (and before SNCM), decided this time to tender alone for the DSP.
Because the company only owns three vessels they needed to acquire two extra ships, which didn’t go easy. A plan to charter a Stena RoRo ship couldn’t be realised. Last minute La Méridionale had to change their plans, and it was said they were going to have LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS instead.
Another ship that was going to reinforce the three-ship fleet had to be changed eventually.
Because of the different characteristics of the initially planned vessels, it was decided the candidature of La Mériodionale was not valid.
This means that in spite of their historic track record (with no industrial actions as with the defunct SNCM), La Méridionale will be excluded from all major Corsican services tenders.
The Corsican tourist industry is of course very worried, with the 1st of July around the corner.
The customer information page on the La Méridionale website explains (in French) the ‘why’ of the strike.
Ferry Shipping News translated the last paragraph:
“Today, at the dawn of a decision taken by partisan parties and stained by procedure errors, our candidature to (de)serve the Corsicans and Corsica is about to be rejected for the next 15 months.
Tomorrow, you (the customer) will no longer have a free choice.”