Brittany Ferries UK-France passengers ‘well down’ on pre-Covid levels

Brittany Ferries summer carryings between the UK and France were “well down” on pre-pandemic levels, the company reported.

Competition from rivals on short sea routes across the English Channel resulted in passenger numbers to Normandy dropping by a quarter and to Brittany by 15% compared to 2019 figures.    

Overall carryings of just over one million in the June to September period compared with almost 1.3 million in summer 2019 but an improvement on last year.

Twice-weekly connections between Roscoff and Cork helped boost passenger numbers this summer. 

Overall France-Ireland service volumes rose by 60% compared with 2019, with a year-on-year increase of 11%.

A route from Rosslare to Bilbao saw 115% growth with 20,000 more travellers crossing the Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay year-on-year, travelling on a new cruise-ferry powered by cleaner liquified natural gas (LNG).

But the company said that elsewhere the data “presents a mixed bag”. 

“Year-on-year growth was reported on routes connecting the UK with Brittany and Normandy regions. However, numbers were still well down on pre-Covid 2019 figures, reflecting the draw of low-cost ferry travel on short sea routes this year. Brittany (down 15%) proved more resilient that Normandy (down 25%).

“UK-Spain routes dropped back to 2019 levels after growth last year. The surge last year had been caused by the closure of the UK-France border during the peak booking period post-Christmas and into January 2022. 

“This year’s data shows a small increase when compared with 2019 levels. 

“However, with one fewer return sailing per week, the positive news is that the rise has been achieved with greater operational efficiency, and a concomitant decline in emissions.”

Chief executive Christophe Mathieu described the figures as “encouraging” as they reflected the first post-Covid year operating all ships, from all ports.”

He addd: “We have shown we have a viable business model with further potential for a return to pre-Covid passenger volumes, if we are able to operate on a level playing field with other operators. 

“This year will deliver a positive economic result and our new ships lead the sector on comfort, accessibility, and lower emissions. It’s a premium travel experience that customers rightly expect.”

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