Brittany Ferries has confirmed that the French company won’t be starting a UK – Portugal ferry route this summer.
Reports first emerged around two weeks ago that the company was considering a Portsmouth or Plymouth – Porto service to cater for the demands of UK tourists wishing to travel to “Green-listed” Portugal. It was subsequently confirmed by the company that such a route could commence before the end of May.
Things were looking promising for a start for the route. As recently as Friday, Brittany Ferries sent a team to Porto before making a final decision. The group included the company’s Fleet Director, Port Director and Strategy Director. The primary focus of the visit was to ensure that the infrastructure and linkspan would support the use of the PONT-AVEN.
Despite a positive technical and operational outcome, everything changed due to the announcement that Spain will welcome British tourists again from tomorrow (24 May).
Brittany Ferries further believes that Spain will be added to the UK’s “Green List” in June. New Covid cases in Spain have fallen to their lowest level since August last year and the vaccination programme is now moving quickly with half of all Spaniards now vaccinated.
Brittany Ferries CEO, Christophe Mathieu said;
“Technically, we could open a route to Porto, but the game changed rapidly on Friday with the announcement from Spanish authorities,”
“It simply wouldn’t make sense to open a new route – and displace passengers already booked on services to Spain – if our second biggest market is open for business. We hope and expect Spain to be placed on the UK’s green list at the first review in early June and for that reason we took the decision to shelve the plan.”
Not Necessarily Off The Table
There has been huge interest in the idea of a ferry service from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Portugal. This included significant mainstream news coverage. Brittany Ferries is said to have received a huge number of enquiries from customers. Some are said to have even offered to pay double for the first crossing! CEO Christophe Mathieu said of Porto;
“We have been overwhelmed by messages of support from existing passengers, new customers and via social media urging us to sail to Porto. So, while I am sure there will be disappointment, when it comes to Portugal we never say never.”