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Irish Ferries Parent Company Posts Trading Update

Carryings and Revenue Increase, But No News on New-build Ferry for Holyhead Route

Irish Ferries parent company Irish Continental Group posted its trading update for the year to date until November 23 this morning. Revenue in the ferry division until 31 October increased €12.2 million* (7.1%) to €184.3* million (including intra-division charter income). This increase was driven by “schedule changes, additional cruise ferry capacity following the entry into service of the W.B. Yeats in January replacing the previous Oscar Wilde and improved schedule integrity following the significant disruptions in the second half of 2018″ according to the company. The company also reported “some volatility in carryings as key Brexit dates were approached and subsequently postponed.”

Irish Ferries suffered technical issues some of their vessels during 2018, with ULYSSES and DUBLIN SWIFT both off service for periods. Local readers will recall ULYSSES spent part of June and most of July last year at Harland & Wolff undergoing maintenance. This will have had a significant impact on the business as ULYSSES is the highest capacity vessel on the Irish Sea. A combination of weather and technical issues also led to cancellations of the fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT.

ULYSSES approaches the entrance to Belfast Dry Dock (BDD) on June 28th 2018. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Irish Ferries’ ULYSSES approaches the entrance to Belfast Dry Dock (BDD) on June 28th 2018. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

The ferry operator had carried 370,700 cars as of November 23, and increase of 1.6% on the previous year. Carryings in the period since 30 June increased by 7.9%, no doubt helped by ULYSSES availability for the entire peak season. DUBLIN SWIFT, however, ended her season slightly early this year.

Freight carryings also increased, with 283,000 RoRo units carried up until November 23 – a rise of 10.5% versus 2018. The increase from June increased by 14.4%, again reflecting the improved schedule integrity versus the previous year.

Like other operators, Irish Continental Group is preparing for the introduction of the 0.5% sulphur cap worldwide from January 1st 2020. The group state they are engaging in discussions with customers to pass on the “increased fuel and investment costs which the Group will incur” are passed through the logistical chain.

With regard to the new ferry on order from Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG), Irish Continental have said the following in their update:

“The Group in 2018 entered into an agreement for the construction of a second cruise ferry with a contracted delivery of late 2020. It is intended that this vessel will service the Dublin/Holyhead route alongside the existing Ulysses with the chartered Epsilon being returned to its owners.”

As of this morning construction does not appear to have started on the new vessel with the covered slipway at FSG remaining empty. Neither the shipyard or Irish Continental Group have announced that steel cutting has started, even though the new ship is expected to be delivered in around 12 months time.

*reported figures are unaudited.

Steven Tarbox

Steven is the editor of NIFerry.co.uk having established the site in 2014. He lives near Belfast.
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