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The Ferry Man

Does our view of Ferry Income need updating...?

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Thought I might start little discussion.

Th genral belief has been that these days freight is the lifeblood of ferries, with passengers being the cream on top. hence the numerous ferries on routes which were once heavily passenger orientated now being more ro-pax.

However, wih recent events, we have seen all the main companies saying how they are in trouble due to the passenger numbers basically zeroing out.

This is, of course, depsite freight still coming through.

So, does our view need changing to the fact that actually passengers provide a bit more than we thought?

 

Thoughts?

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It’s more likely to be a case of freight is what keeps routes running year-round and provides a “stable” income. However, what we don’t know is how much a truck pays on average for every square metre of deck space and what a car does; then add on top all those facilities you only put on for passengers, freight drivers don’t need a Yacht Club wine bar or a Les Abers and they’re probably not paying what passengers do for cabins, to watch movies or buy stuff from the shop.

It’s widely reported that after an initial surge as people were stockpiling, freight volumes are dropping off now. That BF can manage with two ships to France, one to Spain and one Eire-Spain shows by just how much as they’d have a lot more running in a normal winter.

The lines which take passengers, probably run at a loss in Winter, burning through their cash reserves from the previous Summer as well as the forward payments people made for this Summer, and just when they expected to be able to top it up... they get zero income and refunds going out. It’s a perfect storm.

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I've mentioned it on more than one occasion that BF's freight is approximately 15% of it's overall business. The suspension of the pax routes will effect them badly.

Their services to Brittany are particularly light in freight and the most reliant on passenger numbers, Roscoff especially which averages about 10 freight bookings per sailing over a 12 month period.

The suspension of sailings to Le Havre is interesting as freight wise it was BF's 2nd busiest route behind Ouistreham.

BF currently have two ships running to Spain from the U.K.. Pélican from Poole to Bilbao & Cap Finistere to Santander.

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Perhaps this is why deposits for crossings have been substantially increased - to increase cash flow over lean winter months.  And changes to our booking habits, leaving it till much nearer the proposed date of travel, doesn't help either.

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I posted something similar last week in the thread about aid for the ferries.

From what P&O have said they do not make a profit on freight but need the passengers as well, perhaps the belief we have that freight is the Bread and Butter and passengers the Jam on top is wrong, we passengers make up more of the Bread and Butter than thought.  I can see this for the likes of Ply Ros but for Dover ferries to rely so much on passengers is surprising.

Could part of the problem be that they are still running to many ferries, unlike BF who have cut down to the minimum, if each ferry is full of freight they surely must be making money, paying for the laid up ships is another matter.

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1 hour ago, Malc said:

Perhaps this is why deposits for crossings have been substantially increased - to increase cash flow over lean winter months.  And changes to our booking habits, leaving it till much nearer the proposed date of travel, doesn't help either.

We always book 6 to 8 months in advance probably will leave it to the last minute in future

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I'm rather surprised a number of other routes haven't seen reduced frequency or not running at all, the main one being Stena's Fishguard-Rosslare which is reputedly loss making at the best of times. It depends if their calculation is that it is better to keep the traffic than lose it to Irish Ferries at Pembroke.

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