Irish Ferries parent company, Irish Continental Group (ICG), published a trading update earlier today which included a small update on the delivery of W.B. YEATS. The much delayed ferry is now expected to be handed over in “Early December” by its German builder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co. KG (“FSG”). As reported previously by NI Ferry Site, the vessel competed her sea-trials in early November. This fuelled speculation that W.B YEATS would be delivered by the end of this month. However, ICG state that the vessel is still currently “undergoing ﬁnal delivery adjustments”.
Once delivered NIFS expects there will be a few weeks of crew familiarisation and berthing trials before the new vessel carries her ﬁrst passengers. At present it appears that there has been no change to the plan for W.B. YEATS to spend winter on the Dublin to Holyhead route once she is delivered, before moving to the Dublin to Cherbourg route from next Spring. A second vessel is still expected to be delivered to Irish Ferries by FSG in 2020. This still un-named larger vessel will be a part-sister to W.B. YEATS, and is being built speciﬁcally for the Dublin to Holyhead route to replace ULYSSES. ULYSSES will then replace EPSILON on the same route.
For the year to 24 November, Irish Ferries carried 365,400 cars, a decrease of 7.2% on the previous year. This was on the back of a 7.3% loss in sailings (including planned reduced fast craft sailings principally to a decision not to operate the fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT in the Winter). Technical problems with ULYSSES and DUBLIN SWIFT will also have contributed to this decline, with company ﬂagship ULYSSES out of service for around a month due to propulsion issues, and so these results should be viewed with this in mind. In the period since 30 June car carryings decreased by 11.2% compared with the same period last year. Freight carryings for the year to 24 November decreased 0.8% compared with 2017, on the back of a 4.1% loss in cruise ferry sailings (i.e. excluding fast-craft sailings). In the period since 30 June carryings decreased by 5.6%. In addition to the issues with ULYSSES and DUBLIN SWIFT (which is also understood to have had propulsion problems), there was also an issue with EPSILON for a short period. Due to the prolonged issue with ULYSSES, EPSILON also missed a number of her sailings to France as she was redeployed to cover the ﬂagship in her absence. A problem free delivery of W.B. YEATS in December will at least allow Irish Ferries and Irish Continental Group to end a very challenging year on a high!
You can view the full Irish Continental Group trading statement here: https://otp.investis.com/clients/uk/icg2/rns/regulatory-story.aspx?cid=500&newsid=1212811