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TonyMWeaver

Brittany Ferries Wants To Buy Condor Ferries

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A couple of points spring to mind. 

The first relates to a post on the subject I made a year or two back and ties in with Jonno's idea of having two identical Incats. Given the length of time it takes to do a full rotation, the solution is not to do so. The solution is for the ships to swap ends each day. The idea would be that Incat 1 does Poole 0700 to Guernsey 1100 to Jersey 1300 to St Malo 1630 and then another dash to Jersey 1800 to pick up the evening crowd and back to St Malo 21.30 (all times are approximate) and overnights there. Incat 2 does St Malo 0800 to Jersey 0830 to St Malo 1200 for the morning run and then does St Malo to Jersey 1330 to Guernsey 1530 to Poole 1930 and overnights there. 

This would obviously be in addition to the suggested overnight ropax in each direction to and from Portsmouth. 

The second point is that such a service could also be extended to satisfy The States wish for a true inter-island service during the day, and not the token, very irregular and foot-passenger only one offered currently by Manche-Iles-Express. One of the existing fast craft could be kept on to operate between Jersey and Guernsey early in the morning, then add in a dash across to Cherbourg if required before doing the opposite in the afternoon/evening.

Ed

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Jonno - I think you have a short memory.  Condor Express and Condor Vitesse both ran two round trips per day.

Express ran from Weymouth to CI to Poole to CI to Weymouth, leaving Weymouth at 0730 and getting back again in the evening at around 2200.

Vitesse did a round trip from Poole to Cherbourg, and then ran Poole to CI to St Malo to CI to Poole.

They were more than capable of this task, and the economics of their operation depended on being able to do this.

Liberation was purchased with the express intention of running two round trips, but it soon became apparent she couldn’t cope with the intended schedule.  There were a few reasons for that.  

Firstly, she is too big to be able to manage the short turnarounds that made the two trip schedules possible.  Secondly, she was too tricky to handle in port to be able to just nip in and out like her predecessors did.  And thirdly, her vulnerability to weather constraints in port arrivals and departures meant that she had to have some leeway built into her schedules to be able to operate reliably.

So, for all those reasons, she cannot run the intended two trips per day.  And that in turn (however pleasant a vessel she is within which to sail) fundamentally makes her economics not work.

If BF does go ahead with this purchase, I can see that it would make a lot of sense to move Liberation to the Portsmouth - Cherbourg route in place of NEX.  Both of those ports would be far easier for her to handle than the confined Channel Island ports, and it could represent an upgrade on the Portsmouth-Cherbourg service.

NEX could then be used to enhance the CI service to both St Malo and Poole, running alongside three purpose built conventional vessels as previously suggested.  (Or just replace Rapide at St Malo).

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To be honest, I think the Poole situation will stay as it is apart from NEX may operate sailings from here.  Cannot see in a month of Sundays Barfy doing the CI.  Notice on Facebook some are still speculating she would be suitable.  She will stay as she is I bet.  Can see NEX operating partly from Poole.  As Tony said, she is a very popular ship in Portsmouth, and there is no reason why she could not continue to use Portsmouth.  You have to remember with Libby, that in the winter, she can be very uncomfortable for some, and the reason BF do not operate NEX in the winter months is because of the rough sea conditions. Would she handle the rougher seas around the Channel islands in winter any better than Libby?

This you tube clip of her in her early days is a good indication of what she can be like.  Remember this got a lot of attention at the time relating to her stability.  

 

 

Edited by Khaines
Added video

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I think the reason NEX does not operate in winter is nothing to do with sea conditions, it is because Portsmouth-Cherbourg is a very seasonal route with minimal tourist demand outside the peak season.  Even back in Townsend Thoresen days, Portsmouth-Cherbourg was mainly a seasonal service.

There were no problems operating Express and Vitesse through the year to the Channel Islands, so there probably shouldn’t be with NEX.  However, with a conventional ferry providing the main day service from Poole, the demand for NEX would probably remain seasonal in any case (or primarily St Malo based in winter months).

If Liberation has a particular problem with handling rough seas then that is another argument for her to move to the seasonal Portsmouth-Cherbourg service, where she would only be required in the summer months.

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Gareth, yeah maybe I do but Vitesse only stopped at Guernsey on her way to St Malo and back which including turnarounds cuts around 4 hours off the journey plus she was only ever filled to two thirds capacity. I do remember that due to her peak season Poole inclusion on her timetable Express was always the one which suffered "technical difficulties" too. How many times was cover needed? That kind of timetable isn't healthy for a 40kt aluminium ferry, they'll age very quickly in the same way short haul rotations rather than air miles age aircraft.

I don't see Liberation's handling characteristics as another argument, she's fit for purpose or she isn't. For me she isn't and never has been. Yes she's sleek, fast and shiny but so too are Polaris missiles and I wouldn't want to be strapped to one of those... there's a reason why she was ignored for five years, not even the companies whose sole business is island hopping fast craft were interested and for me she's the reason for all the negativity surrounding Condor. Oh and the price... fifty million?? Austel had a big party that day.

For a new owner it's simple, replace Liberation with a quality Incat and continue the service they already have and then replace both the Clipper & Goodwill with a couple of 130m long conventional RoPax. Comfort, quality, consistency & reliability is all that's required.

I really hope Libby isn't replaced with a conventional ferry, that's a bit like replacing an inter city train with coach and I have a feeling those living in the Channel Islands will be a tad annoyed.

Tony, Portsmouth to Cherbourg is a short crossing of around 70 nautical miles, it's not much further than Poole.

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8 minutes ago, jonno said:

not even the companies whose sole business is island hopping fast craft were interested

But they are interested in buying a brand new 118m one. Fred Olsen signed a deal with Austal in April for a second such ship for their lines around the Canary Islands which I imagine can get pretty rough too. Does the extra length make a difference? Or have they improved the design since Liberation was built to make them inherently more stable? 

Interestingly the Austal website has a photo of Condor Liberation with a caption saying 'Redefining Maritime Excellence'! 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.austal.com/&ved=2ahUKEwjF7oaBwf_iAhVBQEEAHeIqD1gQFjAAegQIBRAD&usg=AOvVaw3ccNVEHCJ13XhPH49l8JTA

Ed

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Fred Olsen actually have ordered a pair of the vessels.  All this talk of Libby, must book her up, the weather looks like it is going to be lovely in the coming weeks, must have a spin hopefully before school holidays.

Edited by Khaines

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I'm assuming British wave height regulations are more stringent than Spain's hence why the Fred Olsen trimaran craft operate in a wider range of conditions than Libby and other UK fast craft. Also the first Austal trimaran and the two newbuilds are a slighty different design to Libby.

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6 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

But they are interested in buying a brand new 118m one. Fred Olsen signed a deal with Austal in April for a second such ship for their lines around the Canary Islands which I imagine can get pretty rough too. Does the extra length make a difference? Or have they improved the design since Liberation was built to make them inherently more stable? 

Interestingly the Austal website has a photo of Condor Liberation with a caption saying 'Redefining Maritime Excellence'! 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.austal.com/&ved=2ahUKEwjF7oaBwf_iAhVBQEEAHeIqD1gQFjAAegQIBRAD&usg=AOvVaw3ccNVEHCJ13XhPH49l8JTA

Ed

Don't know but comparing the plans for the older Benchijigua Express with Libby (Auto Express 102) there a few distinct differences, the former is more angular and has a more pronounced bow.

In 15 years Austal have only sold two of this design for civilian use, One to Fred Olsen and the other to Condor, one was built to order the other was left ignored for five years. The two ordered in April are first in 9 years.

All the rest of the civilian Austel HSC's are all catamarans such as Jonathon Swift and her replacement Dublin Swift.

it's interesting that Fred Olsen don't use the Trimaran on their longer HSC routes, they use the older cats. On their longest route(s) they use a conventional Balearia ferry.

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Looking back at the archives as to how BCIF was set up, I wonder if like as in 1985 some kind of consortium could be put together to make a bid? See screenshot. But with this time Brittany Ferries being the lead rather than the minority partner?  Recently Virgin formed the Connect Airways consortium to purchase Flybe...so something like that. I think the French news report suggested something like this.

Screenshot_2019-06-23-22-47-38.png

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Interesting conversation. The Austal vessel that now runs between Morro Jable in Fuerteventura and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a 10,369 GRT monster, the Betancuria Express, constructed in 2011. Since the demise of the Stena HSS, she is the largest fast ferry of her type in the world. She is run by Fred Olsen.

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Surely the point is that the Clipper could nibble up some freight to make valuable space during the peak seasons on ships like Bretagne, which are otherwise having to push away freight traffic in favour of passengers?!

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The problem is that the peak season for BF is also the peak season for the islands and the population, which is already large and growing substantially (https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2019/06/23/jerseys-population-soars/) is much higher than in the winter months so the Clipper and Goodwill are required to transport all the extra food and supplies for the tourists. I doubt there is much extra capacity to spare, especially not when you consider the Clipper also takes camper-vans and caravans to and from the islands. Ed

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Guernsey online newspaper https://gsy.bailiwickexpress.com reports that one of the reasons Brittany Ferries wants to purchase Condor is "to prevent the risk of seeing Condor bought by a competitor". As reported in a staff memo.

Edited by Nick Hyde

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4 hours ago, elcotillo said:

Interesting conversation. The Austal vessel that now runs between Morro Jable in Fuerteventura and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a 10,369 GRT monster, the Betancuria Express, constructed in 2011. Since the demise of the Stena HSS, she is the largest fast ferry of her type in the world. She is run by Fred Olsen.

Yes, the ex Leonora Christina but she's an Austel built Catamaran similar to Dublin Swift not a Trimaran such as Benchijigua Express or Condor Liberation.

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1 hour ago, Stefeni said:

The article seems to imply all three  flexes will be based in Portsmouth 

A press release from Portsmouth International Port on May 28th said exactly the same. However, this means 'Honfleur', 'Galicia' and 'Salamanca'.

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1 hour ago, Stefeni said:

In a safeguarding Move BF is attempting to buy Condor Ferries off McQuarie for £300 to prevent rivals accessing Poole and Portsmouth buy buying Condor

https://gsy.bailiwickexpress.com/gsy/news/brittany-ferries-pushes-condor-purchase/#.XRC_NbLTWhA

 

The article seems to imply all three  flexes will be based in Portsmouth 

I think that is meant to be £300 MILLION...😉.  What has happened to Hawser btw, I thought he’d be licking his chops at this story...

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3 minutes ago, Khaines said:

What has happened to Hawser 

Good question. Any mention of the word 'competition' and BF in the same sentence and he'd normally be the first to chip in. Ed. 

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That being said -and he hasn't been heard of for some time as I recall - I think there are competition issues here.  Frankly I can't see why BF would pay that much money just for the company - though it does make a few quid - just to get the business. 

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