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HONFLEUR - New Build for Ouistreham Route - CANCELLED


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9 minutes ago, nick hall said:

Fair point, I was thinking more of suitability for the route without any commercial considerations.

Yes.  Covid and Brexit makes things even more complex than usual.  More than ever, liquid funds are important for operators at present.

12 minutes ago, Seashore said:

Let’s not forget, it’s not just coronavirus we’re struggling with at the moment. It’ll still be very much in people’s minds this winter as we reach - the seemingly inevitable - the failed Brexit trade deal. Things are about to get worse, not better for BF this winter. Their summer is pretty much a write-off now, there’ll be going into the winter very lean.

Carnival Corporation have decided to remove 6 ships permanently from the fleet in the next 90 days, quite to whom is a mystery as CMV often snaps them up but they’ve had a refinancing fall through yesterday. Assumption is it’s likely the ships will be going to scrap, maybe we’ll see something similar at BF.

Remember they’ll soon no longer be paying Stena RoRo for Kerry, Connemara and Etretat but they’ll be paying them for the 3x E-Flexers and not getting Stena’s charter income for Stena Baltica/Cotentin.

Playing silly beggars speculation now but Armorique could go Portsmouth to St Malo, Barfleur goes Plymouth to Roscoff, an E-Flexer does Roscoff or Cherbourg to Cork (or Rosslare!). MSM and Normandie stay where they are. Cotentin goes Poole/Portsmouth to Cherbourg. Bretagne and Pont-Aven get sold. The Visentinis hang around a bit longer cos they’re cheap to run, carry lots of freight and not a lot of passengers. Actually, I think what happens will be even more inconceivable than that.

Probably not a popular opinion round here, but I've just polished my hard hat....  Theres a good chance that running those E-Flexers is going to be more cost efficient than much of the current tonnage.  Estrid has if anything exceeded efficiency expectations and have much reduced crewing requirements compared to much of the BF fleet.  They may not be the last word in luxury, but are perfectly serviceable vessels.  If they keep the company afloat then surely that's a good thing.  Of course none of us knows what the charter fee is, but the order obviously made financial sense at the time and I'd argue that type of tonnage makes even more sense now!

Edited by tarbyonline
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That may well be the view being presented for now, but things can change. My point being that until the several thousand tons of hull sat floating actually have a decided future, I wouldn't 100% disco

I get the impression we've put more hours into this thread than the German shipyard have into the real ship. Ed. 

And don't forget that the ship's real achievement was the production of zero CO2 emissions, zero waste water and zero satisfied passengers for the whole of the 2019 summer season. Ed. 

Posted Images

4 minutes ago, tarbyonline said:

Yes.  Covid and Brexit makes things even more complex than usual.  More than ever, liquid funds are important for operators at present.

Probably not a popular opinion round here, but I've just polished my hard hat....  Theres a good chance that running those E-Flexers is going to be more cost efficient than much of the current tonnage.  Estrid has if anything exceeded efficiency expectations and have much reduced crewing requirements compared to much of the BF fleet.  They may not be the last word in luxury, but are perfectly serviceable vessels.  If they keep the company afloat then surely that's a good thing.  Of course none of us knows what the charter fee is, but the order obviously made financial sense at the time and I'd argue that type of tonnage makes even more sense now!

A fleet of E-Flexers and Visentinis; the latter must be quite cost effective too if Stena are going to the expense of stretching and converting the ex-Belfast pair.

Could we be looking at a fleet largely made up of Stena RoRo owned ships chartered in, BF would generate a lot of cash in the short term selling off their owned tonnage. Of course MSM is no spring chicken and is 20 years old in two years time; when she was built, keeping ships for that long was inconceivable.

I’d far rather go on Stena Estrid or Stena Edda than a number of BF’s current owned fleet... the two Bs spring to mind. Whilst Galicia could be totally different anyway, I know you’ve been on Estrid but how does it compare to Armorique if you’ve been on her?

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16 minutes ago, Seashore said:

A fleet of E-Flexers and Visentinis; the latter must be quite cost effective too if Stena are going to the expense of stretching and converting the ex-Belfast pair.

Could we be looking at a fleet largely made up of Stena RoRo owned ships chartered in, BF would generate a lot of cash in the short term selling off their owned tonnage. Of course MSM is no spring chicken and is 20 years old in two years time; when she was built, keeping ships for that long was inconceivable.

I’d far rather go on Stena Estrid or Stena Edda than a number of BF’s current owned fleet... the two Bs spring to mind. Whilst Galicia could be totally different anyway, I know you’ve been on Estrid but how does it compare to Armorique if you’ve been on her?

Alas I haven't made ARMORIQUE.  I expect she's quite different - Estrid is unashamedly a Ro-Pax though very pleasant.  Perhaps my gallery will give you a feel for Estrid (though obv Brittany Ferries vessels will be quite different even if using a similar footprint).  

https://www.niferry.co.uk/stena-estrid-first-look/ ( a new version is in the pipeline)

GALICIA and co will be as nice as Brittany Ferries specify them to be.  Compared to the former STENA SUPERFAST X, I much preferred Estrid. If for nothing else for the sense of space and airiness.  Interior fit out seemed to be to a high standard, but I was on her on day one!

I personally don't think BF will end up with a fleet purely of E-Flexers and VIsentinis, but they could certainly supplement a core fleet (which seems to have been the plan anyway).  They may just make certain routes viable that otherwise wouldn't be if the demand is of the correct mix.

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And the doomsday silly season begins once again...

Just because Honfleur has been finally cancelled doesn't mean the sky is falling in. The current format doesn't require a new build now or in the future and there will be a ship available later in the year when Galicia arrives.

Connemara replaces Kerry as planned - saving a charter fee. Normandie stays where she is and after a bit of creative paperwork Cap Finistere replaces Etretat - saving another charter fee. BF will also have the use of Barfleur as and when Cotentin reappears.

Where or what is the panic?

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56 minutes ago, jonno said:

And the doomsday silly season begins once again...

Just because Honfleur has been finally cancelled doesn't mean the sky is falling in. The current format doesn't require a new build now or in the future and there will be a ship available later in the year when Galicia arrives.

Connemara replaces Kerry as planned - saving a charter fee. Normandie stays where she is and after a bit of creative paperwork Cap Finistere replaces Etretat - saving another charter fee. BF will also have the use of Barfleur as and when Cotentin reappears.

Where or what is the panic?

Totally agree HONFLEUR is a ship that may not necessarily be needed, especially given how different things are now compared to when she was ordered.  A fleet shuffle is the obvious answer.  Let's not forget she was supposed to be delivered a year ago - the company doesn't really seem to have missed her much.  

The €117m loan (to be paid back within 5 years) is bound to mean purse strings need to be tightened and so costs reduced though.  €117m is over half the contract price of HONFLEUR to be paid back over just 5 years so lets say for easiness about €24m a year extra to be found.  Staff have already been warned that the company has five hard years ahead.  Theres also the potential effects post December from that B thing many seem to have forgotten about since March.  Of course BF aren't the only company with additional financial obligations due to covid, but liquidity is hugely important as will reducing costs be.  Not just at BF but across the industry (and others).  

The medium to long term effects of COVID are yet to be seen, but at present BF pax bookings for this summer are down some 60%.  PONT AVEN on her planned passenger certificate of 850 is surely unsustainable in anything but the short term!  Crossings could well be reduced and decisions which six months ago would have been unthinkable may need to be taken.  If nothing else, the cancellation of HONFLEUR may have given BF some additional financial breathing space without a hefty final payment to pay on the ship/loan payments to make on the financing.  The ferry industry is in survival mode.

Edited by tarbyonline
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The cancellation of the Honfleur will make creating next year’s timetable simpler and also lead to more certainty with the crewing requirements, however will the eflexers definitely be French crewed ? 
 

Presumably BF will be happy for a voucher instead of cash for their deposit refund.

Edited by David Williams
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8 hours ago, tarbyonline said:

That the German and French media have both picked up on and that neither the yard or BF have made an effort  to correct?  Even when asked outright?  Those that have shippax access will see that the yard has confirmed it to them.  Quotes directly from yard management are hardly speculation!!!

Don't worry, I was being ironic. It's very loyal of Tony to urge caution but, with at least three sources giving the same information and a lack of denial from BF, there can be very little room for doubt. Ed. 

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8 hours ago, nick hall said:

One thing that I find staggering is the estimated completion time for Honfleur. She looks structurally  and I’m guessing mechanically complete. Eleven months to fit out seems too long, no wonder BF have walked away.

Those videos we were shown a few months ago were quite revealing about how much was left to do but clearly the camera angles were carefully chosen to show off the best bits of the work with total chaos in the other direction. Ed. 

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1 hour ago, David Williams said:

Presumably BF will be happy for a voucher instead of cash for their deposit refund.

It would be unwise for them to expect anything else. Of course there will be a 45-day delay in replying to the request and it can only be done via an online form which crashes more frequently than a Greek ferry. Ed. 

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There are 14,000 British people living in the 4 Breton departments plus a further 10,000 second homes. I know a couple of UK families in the latter situation and they are in the Lanion area. Any cutting of routes would be a massive inconvenience for them and make the short-break holidays they often enjoy very complicated.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/bretagne/bretagne-so-british-1409119.html&ved=2ahUKEwj6i72imI3qAhXtz4UKHQt9BQcQFjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw2En0QDGUCF_306yyeAX7rR

Ed. 

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Forecasting future demand is going to be an interesting exercise for any company in passenger transport I think. Since March a lavish service of completely empty trains has continually passed the back of MIllsy Towers and with all the easing and talk of face masks and getting back to normal they are still by and large empty I can see them from my window. Stagecoach buses are passing through without sufficient pax to pay the driver leave alone anybody else and nobody at the stops. This is no longer a temporary blip. The income from councils via the bus pass will have dried up completely. What is keeping the taxi business afloat if anything goodness only knows. At bottom people have begun to assess what travel is essential and what isn't. Not that there's anywhere to go much.  It's not that long ago that we were well used to seasonal only ferry routes and I spent years simply gazing in wonder at the staffing levels on BF winter crossings to serve maybe 30 pax and a few lorries. The plain fact is that the business case for a lot of routes and frequencies must have been shaky in the extreme. No real business would have even considered the Honfleur project after the 2016 result any more than Dick Beeching would have considered HS2 for more than 30 seconds before he threw it in the bin. We have spent years making it easier for people to get places without considering whether there might come a time when they wouldn't want to go. And Network Rail are still doing it with a consultation on grandiose schemes north of Croydon. 

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While having my (ketchup-free) breakfast I was playing around with certain words and letters.

If FSG were to peel all the stickers of one side of BRITTANY FERRIES HONFLEUR, mix them up and create new words they could then rebrand the front of their buildhall with ABHORRENTLY UNFIT FERRIES.

I suppose I'd better go and do some work now.

Ed 

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Going back on topic yesterday’s announcement was a surprise but looking at the bigger, darker picture maybe we should have listened to Gareth all along and expected it. With an outlet in Roscoff we do tend to get advance snippets of information but the smoke signals yesterday were more about services restarting than throwing in the towel with Honfleur.

Hopefully the announcement today will clarify her situation but if indeed she is ditched then the ideal company to purchase her could be ICG. They have over 200m euro in cash and guaranteed loans available so Flensburg would bite both their arms off to get her out of the way, Irish Ferries have a brand new ship for Dublin - Cherbourg for the next 2 - 3 years, they then either leave it at that or sub charter her back to BF once a yard is found to construct a WB Y 2 as and when finances/increased traffic allows.

I have no info on this but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility....

Chris

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I did have a thought this morning.  I wonder if BF made an offer to the yard to take the ship as she is (so they could send her somewhere else) but the offer was rejected or too high a price was demanded.  And then, did BF cancel the order with the intention of forcing the yard to close so they can then acquire the unfinished ship as-is for a much lower price from the receivers?  Only thing with that theory, I suppose (apart from it being morally dubious and possibly on the fringes of legality (?)), is that they probably wouldn't have announced the cancellation so publicly.  The public announcement kind of conveys a finality that indicates BF has no interest in subsequently acquiring the ship.  (They'd look pretty foolish if they issue a subsequent announcement saying they have recommissioned Honfleur after all).

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5 minutes ago, Fine Whine said:

Flensburg would bite both their arms off to get her out of the way

Brittany Ferries is probably thinking along the same lines and hoping that a period of reflection by FSG  and that the yard is never reopening as long as the unfinished Honfleur is on their books might inspire FSG to do a deal with BF as the only potential customer for the vessel . We are looking at a big " Mexican standoff "

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54 minutes ago, The Ferry Man said:

Trouble is we're being told not to use public transport - I'd love to go back on a train, it's the only way I can get to anywhere! You look on the NRE website and all that flashes up are messages basically telling you not to use them.

Based on the carryings down here you'd be safer on a train than pretty well anywhere else. 

Edited by Millsy
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Does anyone remember who has financed all the dredging and berth-enlargement works at Ouistreham? Surely that investment was contingent on BF bringing a larger vessel to the port and their contract with the port would stipulate the arrival of the vessel within a certain time-frame. Ed

Edited by Cabin-boy
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I've been trawling the thread to try to find an answer to @colin's question about information on money poured into FSG to keep the yard afloat.  I was sure I had read it somewhere on here.  Around pages 40-55 there is a lot of talk about BF agreeing different terms, maybe foregoing penalty clauses etc as part of an agreement to get construction re-started.  However, all I saw when trawling was speculation and theorising, so I may be wrong about that.  It's funny, when you read these things, over time you forget what was fact and what was someone's thought process.

However, while I was trawling, I noticed another key observation that I'd forgotten.  At the time of the original failure of the yard, Honfleur was a mere 3 months away from her scheduled delivery (with no indication of any reason for a possible delay).  Since the rescue package was put together, and the yard started functioning again, we have had that 3-month period elapse many times over.  And now we still hear that the completion of the ship is nearly a year away.

This has led me to wonder about another possibility.  Is the only explanation for this continued delay and failure to get the ship (that was 3 months from completion over a year ago) finished that there must be something seriously wrong with her?  And that, whatever this thing wrong with her is, BF has concluded that it cannot be put right?

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37 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I did have a thought this morning.  I wonder if BF made an offer to the yard to take the ship as she is (so they could send her somewhere else) but the offer was rejected or too high a price was demanded.  And then, did BF cancel the order with the intention of forcing the yard to close so they can then acquire the unfinished ship as-is for a much lower price from the receivers?  Only thing with that theory, I suppose (apart from it being morally dubious and possibly on the fringes of legality (?)), is that they probably wouldn't have announced the cancellation so publicly.  The public announcement kind of conveys a finality that indicates BF has no interest in subsequently acquiring the ship.  (They'd look pretty foolish if they issue a subsequent announcement saying they have recommissioned Honfleur after all).

I think you have a point here...but how likely is it that the yard will be acquired by the potential buyer with an unfinished ship sitting on the pier with no prospective buyer?  There would appear to be no real rout to an income stream at this yard, and a great big dead weight in the way of any future builds...they nee a deal and quickly!

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14 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Does anyone remember who has financed all the dredging and berth-enlargement works at Ouistreham? Surely that investment was contingent on BF bringing a larger vessel to the port and their contract with the port would stipulate the arrival of the vessel within a certain time-frame. Ed

https://www.ouest-france.fr/normandie/ouistreham-14150/ouistreham-le-port-fait-peau-neuve-6669234
 

Sorry but I can’t as yet find an English version but basically the port is owned by PNA (Ports Normands Associés) who are sharing the 20-25 million euro costs with the CCI de Caen ( Chamber of Commerce). However not all of this money has gone into preparing for Honfleur’s arrival, more to secure the long term viability of the port as a whole.

Chris

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2 hours ago, Millsy said:

No real business would have even considered the Honfleur project after the 2016 result any more than Dick Beeching would have considered HS2 for more than 30 seconds before he threw it in the bin.

Can I be a pedant and suggest that HS2 would have been very much up Beeching's street. Massive investment in inter-city and trunk routes was the overlooked partner in his plans to closing rural and local services.

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Do you know if the port has now been widened Chris?  I agree it needed doing, regardless of Honfleur.  The ability of the port to take longer ships can only add to BF’s flexibility.

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10 hours ago, jonno said:

And the doomsday silly season begins once again...

Just because Honfleur has been finally cancelled doesn't mean the sky is falling in. The current format doesn't require a new build now or in the future and there will be a ship available later in the year when Galicia arrives.

Connemara replaces Kerry as planned - saving a charter fee. Normandie stays where she is and after a bit of creative paperwork Cap Finistere replaces Etretat - saving another charter fee. BF will also have the use of Barfleur as and when Cotentin reappears.

Where or what is the panic?

Probably right. 

I agree with you.

 

 

Brittany Ferries may have had this scenario in mind by carrying out ramp tests at Cap Finistère at the start of the year ?

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