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Brittany Ferries Wants To Buy Condor Ferries

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Nick, do you think there is any case for a conventional ferry service between the Islands and St Malo? (Or is that now firmly fast craft territory?).

If there was, then BF could operate a couple of purpose-built ropaxes between Portsmouth and the islands overnight both ways, and then by day fit in Portsmouth-Cherbourg and Islands - St Malo rotations before the following night.

Or would the vessels just be better utilised providing both day and night crossings each way between Portsmouth and the Islands?

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Whatever they decide about the conventional ferries I think they still need to maintain an early morning/late evening service from St Malo to Jersey and back (and fit in Guernsey rotations as now) most days of the week, and particularly Fridays and Saturdays. This gets the islanders to France on Friday evenings after work and school for their holidays and on Saturday mornings for day trips to St Malo. They also need to maintain the day-trip option, and weekend-away option, for the French to visit Jersey which in my experience represents well over 50% of the passengers. That only requires 1 high-speed craft (except during refits obviously) so there is no reason why a conventional ferry couldn't add a mid-morning/lunchtime visit to St Malo too. Ed.

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2 hours ago, Gareth said:

Nick, do you think there is any case for a conventional ferry service between the Islands and St Malo? (Or is that now firmly fast craft territory?).

If there was, then BF could operate a couple of purpose-built ropaxes between Portsmouth and the islands overnight both ways, and then by day fit in Portsmouth-Cherbourg and Islands - St Malo rotations before the following night.

Or would the vessels just be better utilised providing both day and night crossings each way between Portsmouth and the Islands?

Poole would be closer than Portsmouth and apart from Pelican on a couple of days the berth is free as Barfleur will be back to her old schedule in the autumn and her berth will be available as she sits in Cherbourg most of the day. 

 

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Reaction from a transport specialist here in France who is close to the local / regional political scene :

Quote

 

"This would be excellent news for the economies of both Normandie and Bretagne as well as for the Îles. Both Cherbourg and St Malo can expect to benefit, and that has to be good news particularly for Cherbourg if some services can be linked. I suspect there are days in winter when the services could be combined in some way.

"Obviously we won't see the big BF ships going to Jersey – but what about the Barfleur or the Economie ships? And what are the load factors on the two conventional Condor ships? Could Condor Goodwill replace the Pelican? Or vice versa? And what about Normandie Express?

"Remember also that – in the UK market – Brittany Ferries is an important holiday operator with all the hotel and gites arrangements. I'm sure there will be a market for "two centre" holidays combining the islands and mainland France

"Brittany Ferries is the principal employer of French mariners and also many personnel onshore, and has a good reputation for efficiency in terms of fleet management and for technical maintenance. So what we might call "new Condor" would obviously benefit from that.

"Not that we can expect the Condor name to continue. It does not have any meaning or any real value. So after a BF takeover I think you would see the name revert to Channel Islands Ferries. This would be a link to the previous name – when of course BF was a shareholder in the operation – and a simple one. As you say: It would do what it says on the tin, or in this case the hull."

 

 

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8 minutes ago, kenw said:

but what about the Barfleur or the Economie ships?

Not wanting to criticise a 'specialist' but does he own tape measure? Ed. 

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11 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Not wanting to criticise a 'specialist' but does he own tape measure? Ed. 

I have just looked at St Helier on satellite view on iStreets - and Barfleur docking in there, cat in hell.  And she is the smallest BF conventional.  Only one of the fleet to fit in would be NEX.  Barf might be small but she is bigger than she looks.  Below is a photo of Libby and Rapide to give an idea of size.

Edited by Khaines

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Gareth, personally I think two 400 or so berth ro pax newbuildings would be better deployed on the Portsmouth to CI route only. Fast craft to St Malo would work better. 

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Barfy is longer than Bretagne, just a couple of metres shorter than Normandie. 

Regarding new vessel investment by a new owner it may be worth remembering that Condor's turnover is around £6 million and assets are only around £2.5m (the ships don't count as they're subject to amortisation and are only viable cash wise when sold). EBITDA is only around £500k. Where's the money coming from for these new ferries? 

Again worth noting is the finite number of persons the islands can cope with during the peak months, you can't keep simply packing them in because a greater ship capacity allows it.

Having a consistent & reliable service first and foremost for the Islanders is the priority, if better heads can come together in order to achieve this with the current fleet then surely that's top of the list.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, jonno said:

Where's the money coming from for these new ferries? 

Most likely a consortium of The States and whichever French department the ferries are attached to, in the same way that Normandie et al are owned. Ed. 

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28 minutes ago, Nick Hyde said:

Gareth, personally I think two 400 or so berth ro pax newbuildings would be better deployed on the Portsmouth to CI route only. Fast craft to St Malo would work better. 

Nick, you'd prefer cutting pax capacity by two thirds (Lib 880, Clipper 300) to just 400 or so in order to have a conventional overnight sailing? The round trip to both islands on the Libby is the best part of 9 hours now, the Clipper takes 13 hours?

I agree that having a couple of 400 berth Ropax is desirable , you're offering a lot of added value for your travellers not to mention comfy beds for all but you'll still be in need of your fast service.

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Jonno, ideally, you'd also need a fast ferry from Poole in addition to the two ro paxes. But as the Poole fast ferry apparently makes no profit perhaps we have to accept the economics of the situation and a reduced service as a result. Otherwise the operator will need some form of subsidy. 

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Given that Liberation is only capable of one round trip per day, and that her speed therefore afords no economic advantage, is there not a case for a day ferry service from Poole, using a proper ferry, roughly along the lines of Liberation’s schedule, to compliment a ro-pax service from Portsmouth?  

With BF in charge, there is no reason why such a service would need to compromise BF’s onboard experience.  It can just be provided within a smaller space because it is catering for a smaller passenger capacity.

So, three purpose-built ferries, two overnight ropaxes for 400 serving Portsmouth, and an 800 passenger conventional day ferry to serve Poole.  That should be enough provision shouldn’t it?

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The CIs problem is always going to be the tides dictating schedule alongside the limitation of the size of the vessels that can fit

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Well, that’s a problem only in that they are factors to be taken into account.  New builds will obviously be built to fit, rendering the size aspect solved, and tides have aways affected the CI, particularly St Helier, just as they did in the Sealink heyday.

But neither of those are factors that are relevant to the economics of Liberation.  The economics of a fast craft is predicated on it being able to make more journeys.  But Liberation has only become possible to operate reliably because Condor gave up on the two round trips per day schedule (which Liberation could not cope with).  Once the operation gets reduced to one round trip per day, it is an economic disadvantage to run this with an expensive fast ferry when a conventional ship would be able to make the same provision for a fraction of the cost.  (And, in winter, more reliably too).

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Also, Jonno when I talk about 400 berth ro paxes I'm talking about the number of beds and not the total passenger capacity. Clipper only has 160 berths with the largest ever pax ferry to the islands (MV Rozel ) having 670. I doubt if you wanted to keep a decent ro ro trailor capacity on each ship you'd have much room more for more berths.

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27 minutes ago, Gareth said:

The economics of a fast craft is predicated on it being able to make more journeys.

If BF do take control of the operation then surely the other limiting factor (assuming all the vessels are French-flagged) is going to be crew working hours. It's all very well running the service from 8 in the morning until 11 at night, as Condor currently do governed by whatever rules apply in the Bahamas, but if you don't have space on board for a reserve crew and berths for them then this is going to be a problem. Ed. 

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I think the decision is likely to come down to money. Would BF be able to sanction the building of a new purpose built ferry for St Helier, knowing that they can limit there losses by ensuring that passengers have a better overall experience onboard, but taking longer, and charging more for the services. If BF feel they are more likely to maintain current profits from the express services, rather than funding a new ferry with improved onboard facilities through charging more, they are likely to maintain the existing services. That's what I feel that it will boil down to at the end of the day.

Hope that makes sense. 

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3 minutes ago, MichaelBF said:

charging more for the services

That's precisely what worries me. For example BF charge something in the region of 30€ return to take a bicycle with you as a foot passenger. On Condor it's free on all their routes. The bike stays in the garage with the other vehicles and does not get any special treatment (not washed, polished or serviced) so there is no justification for the cost. The trips are short and so the added value that BF purports to offer is unnecessary. If they do end up running the CI service, let's make it a real Economie service with pricing to match. Ed. 

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Just now, Nick Hyde said:

Deffo not economie. We deserve a premium product here in the Channel Islands. 😀😀

Oh, you certainly deserve it, but are you prepared to pay more for it? Because if it's BF you will.

Just out of interest, does Condor offer a 'club voyage' equivalent for regular travellers? Ed. 

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17 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Oh, you certainly deserve it, but are you prepared to pay more for it? Because if it's BF you will.

Just out of interest, does Condor offer a 'club voyage' equivalent for regular travellers? Ed. 

They do a “frequent travellers club”, 

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I think all  HSC's are only capable of one round trip. If you take into account that Liberation takes 3 hours to reach Guernsey, once outside the swash channel she's pushing 40 kts, Consider the time it takes Barfy to reach Cherbourg which is 20 nm closer. A conventional day sailing ferry from Poole would take 6 hours to reach Guernsey, it would be late afternoon before she reached Jersey. You'd be back in the U.K at around 0200. 

As I posted earlier, replacing the trimaran with a more suitable HSC would offer more stability. The new Incats carry almost as may HGV's as Bretagne as well as around 250 cars.

6 hours ago, Nick Hyde said:

Also, Jonno when I talk about 400 berth ro paxes I'm talking about the number of beds and not the total passenger capacity. Clipper only has 160 berths

For a vessel a little more balanced offering a conventional overnight service in each direction to Portsmouth you only need to look at the ships of Northlink... 600 pax, close on 360 berths and capable of carrying a little more freight or pax vehicles all enclosed. The CI's could easily accommodate similar ships to these. It's not out of the question by any means.

For a shipping company serious enough to want to make it work in the long term rather than a bunch of venture capitalists a balance of investment of around £120m overall isn't unrealistic.

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You seem to forget Jonno that 'Normandie Express' can do 2 round trips to Cherbourg from Portsmouth during the summer which in total is 15 hours (not including turnaround).

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