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Irish Ferries Announce Newbuild for UK/Ireland/France

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Am I missing something here, or are the hints of what IF may be about to do, present a really serious bit of competition to BF on ROI-France crossings?

Yes, I know that IF has been around for years, but a new ship with all its bells & whistles (and Irish too) would be a big (dare I use that overused word) challenge.

I appreciate that BF will still be attractive to those in the south & south west of Eire, but an attractive pricing plan might just lure more than a few of them up to Dublin, to add to the obvious catchement market there and from Ulster.

Would be interested in the views of Irish & NI members.

 

 

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9 hours ago, crechbleiz said:

A bit far fetched. Do we need to have the sempiternal wishes of revival of (sometimes failed but providing they include Poole) ferry lines competing with BF or others, not even remotely connected with the topic?

apologies for being facetious but... The company "Le Passeur du Trieux" is now offering crossings between Pontrieux and Lezardrieux on their state of the art converted trawler. Do BF and IF need to worry about the launch of a competing service between Lezardrieux and Plymouth or Cork?

That's nothing! Here in Angers we have a chain-ferry called 'le Bac' to take people across to the Île St. Aubin. It's free to use and can take tractors, bikes and cars for those who live over there, plus pedestrian visitors. But you have to pull it across yourself! Fine when there is a group of you, but hell if you are the last one off the island on a Saturday evening after a stop at the bar.

http://www.angersloiretourisme.com/fr/decouvrir/lieux-de-visites/lile-saint-aubin

It would be perfect for a takeover by some large conglomerate. In fact Balearia could park the other, as yet unallocated, Visentini lengthways across the gap and people can just drive over. They could even equip it with a 'drive-thru' fast-food outlet. They'd have to wait for the level of the Loire to rise a bit to get it up here, plus there's a lock on the Maine to navigate but nothing that can't be overcome with a bit of ingenuity.

Ed

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On 03/09/2017 at 12:47, crechbleiz said:

Hi Chris. I sampled a Crozes  Hermitage (half bottle) on board in June. Was it one of yours? It was very good. 

Hi Crechbleiz,

Yes, guilty as charged.....

From the Cave de Tain l'Hermitage, one of the best co-operatives in France, 100% Syrah (Shiraz) grapes grown on a stony soil that gives the wine elegance, body and distinct spice flavours, especially in a good vintage like 2015 that would have been on the Oscar Wilde in June

Hells bells I'm getting into work speak ......:o

Sorry

Chris

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22 hours ago, Gardian said:

Am I missing something here, or are the hints of what IF may be about to do, present a really serious bit of competition to BF on ROI-France crossings?

Yes, I know that IF has been around for years, but a new ship with all its bells & whistles (and Irish too) would be a big (dare I use that overused word) challenge.

I appreciate that BF will still be attractive to those in the south & south west of Eire, but an attractive pricing plan might just lure more than a few of them up to Dublin, to add to the obvious catchement market there and from Ulster.

Would be interested in the views of Irish & NI members.

 

 

Hi Gardian,

If I.F. decide to put their new "yet-to-be-named" vessel (apparently Ed is in the running for lots of free crossings across the Irish Sea) on a summer Ireland - France schedule, including a weekly trip to Roscoff then yes, this would give BF something to think about. I love the Pont Aven, even more so having taken a wonderfully relaxing trip down to Spain with her in July this year, but the down side for Irish customers is you arrive in Roscoff early on Sunday morning but need to be back by Friday evening. So for those who can only spare 1 week away it ends up being just 5 nights in France.

We see a great many Irish cars heading to the port on Friday evenings but there are as many D (Dublin) registration plates as there are C's (Cork), so a if the schedule to be announced at the end of October is what I am guessing it might be then the Irish Ferries options could be very tempting.

Chris

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20 minutes ago, Fine Whine said:

Hi Crechbleiz,

Yes, guilty as charged.....

From the Cave de Tain l'Hermitage, one of the best co-operatives in France, 100% Syrah (Shiraz) grapes grown on a stony soil that gives the wine elegance, body and distinct spice flavours, especially in a good vintage like 2015 that would have been on the Oscar Wilde in June

Hells bells I'm getting into work speak ......:o

Sorry

Chris

That's a cooperative I recognise I'm sure I used to get at my local cooperative.

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Chris, with all your contacts locally and at the ferry companies, do you happen to know whether BF has any influence over the extent to which Roscoff is made available to IF?  

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Well that's a very interesting question Gareth, because I must admit that up until now I assumed they could make life very difficult for other operators wishing to use the port of Roscoff. Despite the close historical links between BF and the construction of the port, it is owned and run by Morlaix Chamber of Commerce, and in the same way that  Caen CCI let P&O use Ouistreham for a short period of time a decade ago, if allowing IF greater access to Roscoff results in higher earnings then in theory what should stop them?

As it happens I'm off to Rosslare on Thursday on one of our wine tasting jollies, so for those enthusiasts who enjoy a couple of overnight cruises how does this sound...

Oscar Wilde arrives in Roscoff at 10h30 with a good many booze cruisers on board - remember that an Irish day trip takes 42 hours! Having served a couple of hundred of them I will jump on board with 6 wine growers and have a leisurely trip up to Rosslare including dinner in the Bernavel Restaurant and maybe a decent bottle of wine (:D). Then enjoy an hour on the bridge on Friday morning before disembarking, grab a quick lunch in a pub, then get back on board in preparation for the return crossing to France. We take over the whole of the front of the ship in the Merrion Lounge for at least 4 hours, make sure the 500 or so passengers on the round trip are nicely stoked up before arriving in Roscoff the following morning,  pockets bulging with €50 notes, and they then go though the shop like a plague of locusts. It really is a sight to behold.....9_9

Steven O'Mara is the Master for the round trip and I'll ask him about access to Roscoff Port; I'll also have a go at winkling out some info about the new vessel from Dublin and her schedule for 2018 but despite knowing him well I imagine he'll be towing the company line and his lips will be well sealed.

Chris

Edited by Fine Whine
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Thanks Chris, very interesting.  Will be interesting to see what you manage to find out.

Thinking it through a bit further, you'd have to think that if BF has any influence then it would have not allowed IF access at all would they?  And therefore the fact that IF has access now means that BF has no veto.  And therefore, if there is no veto, there is no theorectical reason why IF could not expand their presence in Roscoff if so-minded.

So, second question....do you think there is any chance IF might be tempted to try to muscle in on BF at Cork?  Gven how lightly the terminal is used these days, you'd think that Ringaskiddy might be willing to grant quite favourable terms to another operator wishing to sail out of there, say, once a week?

Given that (I think previously?) we have established that the new ship will not fit the berths at Rosslare, she couldn't be a direct replacement for Oscar Wilde without abandoning Rosslare and focussing the French services on Dublin.  So, assuming that IF are not about to abandon Rosslare, that would mean Oscar Wilde remaining (presmably on something approaching current schedules) out of Rosslare.  So with 3 sailings out of Rosslare, are we likely to see 3 sailings per week out of Dublin as well?  Or is it possible that we might see the new ship calling at Cork once a week (where she will fit)?

(IF did experiment with sailing to Cork a few years back.  Maybe more than a few years - think it was whilst they were still running a 2-ship daily servce each way so probably as ICL so probably more like a few decades ago!  But it was fairly short-lived so maybe they found that Cork was not for them.  If I remember rightly their previous foray into Cork was from Le Havre though.)

Edited by Gareth

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In 1995 Irish Continental Group wanted to run a ferry service to Roscoff. CCI Morlaix, the manager of the port, although not a ferry operator, had a 5% shareholding in Brittany Ferries. The European Commission considered that CCI Morlaix’s conduct over the negotiations was a refusal to supply access and that this refusal would have constituted an abuse of dominance (ie a breach of competition law).

 

(sorry about the detail - I'm a rare poster and also a competition lawyer)

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1 hour ago, Simon Dodd said:

In 1995 Irish Continental Group wanted to run a ferry service to Roscoff. CCI Morlaix, the manager of the port, although not a ferry operator, had a 5% shareholding in Brittany Ferries. The European Commission considered that CCI Morlaix’s conduct over the negotiations was a refusal to supply access and that this refusal would have constituted an abuse of dominance (ie a breach of competition law).

 

(sorry about the detail - I'm a rare poster and also a competition lawyer)

Thanks Simon - very informative.  You should post more!  :)

So, reading between the lines, does that mean that in essence, Roscoff port itself effectively tried to stop ICL gaining access to the port in order to protect BF (in which it had an interest?).  Presumably what is allowed today is some sort of token granting of access just enough to keep the competition lawyers away?  Or have attitudes changed over the years to the point where both operators operating out of the port are seen as beneficial?

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31 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Thanks Simon - very informative.  You should post more!  :)

So, reading between the lines, does that mean that in essence, Roscoff port itself effectively tried to stop ICL gaining access to the port in order to protect BF (in which it had an interest?).  Presumably what is allowed today is some sort of token granting of access just enough to keep the competition lawyers away?  Or have attitudes changed over the years to the point where both operators operating out of the port are seen as beneficial?

Thanks!  :-)  

Yes, Roscoff port did indeed try to block ICL in order to protect BF.  In terms of competition law, where there is such an essential facility, 'reasonable' access must be given - ie the port cannot deny access or impose conditions that are equivalent to denial (eg berthing slots that are completely unacceptable).

Interestingly, there was a similar case a couple of years earlier involving Holyhead, where Sealink (owner of the port as well as the ferry operator) was found to breached competition law by arranging its schedules to cause maximum inconvenience to B&I (since acquired by the successor to ICL).

Where there is no essential facility (ie there's no vertical links between ports and operators or if there are competing ports so that there is no one essential port that must be served), then this principle won't apply.

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1 hour ago, Simon Dodd said:

Interestingly, there was a similar case a couple of years earlier involving Holyhead, where Sealink (owner of the port as well as the ferry operator) was found to breached competition law by arranging its schedules to cause maximum inconvenience to B&I (since acquired by the successor to ICL).

There were a couple of cases on Stena at Holyhead, one was the B&I one about literally rocking the Irish boats as Sealink ships sailed past. The other one was when Sealink as port operator put obstacles in the way of Sea Containers opening a SeaCat service from Holyhead in '93/'94. Both made for very interesting case law and the documents about the SeaCon one (which was partly another way of Jim Sherwood and Dan Sten Olsson continuing their very personal war) are quite revealing-

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dec/1994/19(1)/oj

 

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Didn't IF originally want to operate from Brest but the authorities, either EU or French would not back a new linkspan when there was already one at Roscoff under used.  Sorry if I got that wrong but I think I've seen that on here in the past.

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13 minutes ago, Solo said:

Didn't IF originally want to operate from Brest but the authorities, either EU or French would not back a new linkspan when there was already one at Roscoff under used.  Sorry if I got that wrong but I think I've seen that on here in the past.

That rings a bell, but doesn't quite make sense as there is already a linkspan at Brest.  But it does raise the other possibility, if IF wants to sail further south, of the facilities at St Nazaire being of interest to them?  Bit of a danger of merging with a certain other thread at that point, and until IF releases a timetable it's all speculation.  No doubt their plans will become clear soon and it will be interesting to see how the new ship is going to be deployed. 

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52 minutes ago, hhvferry said:

There were a couple of cases on Stena at Holyhead, one was the B&I one about literally rocking the Irish boats as Sealink ships sailed past. The other one was when Sealink as port operator put obstacles in the way of Sea Containers opening a SeaCat service from Holyhead in '93/'94. Both made for very interesting case law and the documents about the SeaCon one (which was partly another way of Jim Sherwood and Dan Sten Olsson continuing their very personal war) are quite revealing-

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dec/1994/19(1)/oj

 

Absolutely.  I was selectively referencing the B&I one merely as B&I is now Irish Ferries.  There's other decisions relating to ports being essential facilities in other Member States too (eg Rodby in Denmark).  Some very interesting cases!

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31 minutes ago, Gareth said:

That rings a bell, but doesn't quite make sense as there is already a linkspan at Brest.  But it does raise the other possibility, if IF wants to sail further south, of the facilities at St Nazaire being of interest to them?  Bit of a danger of merging with a certain other thread at that point, and until IF releases a timetable it's all speculation.  No doubt their plans will become clear soon and it will be interesting to see how the new ship is going to be deployed. 

Brest was discussed by the Commission, but wasn't found to be competing with Roscoff - lack of facilities, not in terms of a linkspan, but other issues (haven't the decision in front of me though - possibly lack of immigration/customs and restrictions around the naval base?).

 

 

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Going back further in time am I the only one who now remembers TT Line and Mary Poppins?  In 1975 they wanted to institute a service between Southampton and St Malo but this was opposed at both ends, by the interests behind BF in St Malo and by the dockers' unions in Southampton.  In St Malo the French Govt was prepared to draft in units of the riot police, the CRS, to ensure Mary Poppins could dock.  In Southampton the dockers prevented her berthing but nothing was done and consequently TT Line gave up.  So much for the principle of "Open Ports".  

The following year the Southampton dockers realised they'd been doing BF's dirty work for them when BF opened their Portsmouth-St Malo service, which utilised the new and rival facilities at Portsmouth.  Demonstrations against it by the Southampton dockers outside the Portsmouth ferry terminal were to no avail and Southampton's descent into oblivion as an international ferry port, in my view, started at this point.

I believe the problem at Brest is that while the port has a linkspan it has no shore side ferry facilities.  Thus when Brest has stood in for Roscoff all embarkation and disembarkation formalities have to take place in the open air by the side of the road into/out of the port.  It seems official permission is required to install the necessary facilities and this has not been forthcoming.

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That cabin looks 'sick'! I hope BF take at least a little inspiration from the likes of the Baltic ships (Viking Grace etc) and this rendering in their cabin design for Honfleur. I know BF clearly will clearly not have a pile of woodland style lofts, or jaccuzis in the cabin, but it would be nice to modernize a little... I find the cabins on pretty much all the current fleet rather bland and samey to be honest, in a way letting down the rest of the ship. Even the Pont Aven commodores are hardly stunning after 13 years!

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On 9/4/2017 at 20:53, Fine Whine said:

Hi Gardian,

If I.F. decide to put their new "yet-to-be-named" vessel (apparently Ed is in the running for lots of free crossings across the Irish Sea) on a summer Ireland - France schedule, including a weekly trip to Roscoff then yes, this would give BF something to think about. I love the Pont Aven, even more so having taken a wonderfully relaxing trip down to Spain with her in July this year, but the down side for Irish customers is you arrive in Roscoff early on Sunday morning but need to be back by Friday evening. So for those who can only spare 1 week away it ends up being just 5 nights in France.

We see a great many Irish cars heading to the port on Friday evenings but there are as many D (Dublin) registration plates as there are C's (Cork), so a if the schedule to be announced at the end of October is what I am guessing it might be then the Irish Ferries options could be very tempting.

Chris

I think Chris has highlighted the inadequacy of the BF single sailing a week from Ireland. It suits BF's scheduling for the rest of the week but does not suit the Irish Customer that wants to spend more than 5 nights in France. Travelling on the Pont Aven you regularily come in contact with passengers that have used IF for the other leg of the journey so that they can extend the length of their stay in France beyond 5 nights. Usually they have travelled on the OW and comparisons are generally favourable but if now they have a brand new ferry operating out of Dublin then they might be tempted to use it both  ways. Dublin is also more convienent to our Friend in Northern Ireland so they could be easily tempted away from BF in Cork unless they improve thier offering

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I guess the alternative is that BF could pull out of the Irish route in the event of an enhanced offering from IF?  They clearly don't have the tonnage at the moment to increase their frequency of sailing to Cork but that could change if/when a new flagship is built and if they then still retain Bretagne.

From what I've read on here about pricing and loadings on the Cork route it sounds like it must be quite lucrative for BF.  So I guess they will try to avoid pulling out if they can?

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Isn't there a philosophical angle here?  BF was set up to link the "Celtic Fringe" and the operator's official name in France is BAI, "Bretagne, Angleterre, Irelande".  I suppose Pont Aven's once a week Roscoff-Cork rotation in summer is designed to maintain the idea that this concept still applies notwithstanding BF's now far greater commitment to the middle English Channel and to Spain.  Thus it's a moot point whether they would abandon entirely all Irish connections.

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The route has to be very profitable based on the loadings certainly in the summer - maybe with Brexit it might become more important to them . Certainly this year there were more French & RoI cars on the Pont Aven with only a few NI cars. The exchange rate since the Brexit announcement has become less favourable & Uk visitors to Ireland generally  are down 6 % .

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1 hour ago, Hawser Trunnion said:

Isn't there a philosophical angle here?  BF was set up to link the "Celtic Fringe" and the operator's official name in France is BAI, "Bretagne, Angleterre, Irelande".  I suppose Pont Aven's once a week Roscoff-Cork rotation in summer is designed to maintain the idea that this concept still applies notwithstanding BF's now far greater commitment to the middle English Channel and to Spain.  Thus it's a moot point whether they would abandon entirely all Irish connections.

I wonder however, what that actual bottom line is here though for BF... for example, if they costed every single Cork - Roscoff, Roscoff - Cork sailing during the year to be at absolute maximum capacity, compared to the costs of keeping Ireland going.. i.e. Port taxes, port staff, cleaning, Terminal rent/ maintenance/ upkeep, I.T equipment, marketing, infrastructure (phone lines, utilities, banking etc), year-round staff and building in Cork centre. Don't get me wrong - I think that the Irish route / presence is great, but a lot of the overheads are 'already covered' as it were elsewhere..... I wonder if she would be more profitable doing extra Spain/France runs instead!?

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