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P&O Ferries fighting for survival


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  • Nick Hyde changed the title to P&O Ferries fighting for survival
36 minutes ago, Shipping Forecast said:

Maybe this is linked to the Space Charter Agreement between P&O and DFDS on Dover Calais route 6 days ago, enabling freight drivers to turn up at either port and take the next available sailing, P&O or DFDS.

A very sensible arrangement.

Ed

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If they were to ever ace the Hull/Rotterdam route does anybody think another operator would take over the route? Where could the twins likely go next, seeing they are very bespoke designed for their route.

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This story actually emerged in April. The Times are a bit late to the party. It was an attempt by the uber rich Dubai World owner to get the Government to throw loadsamoney more into the P & O pot, which rather saved him the trouble of doing it. So far they havent aceeded to his request. 

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6 minutes ago, Ryan_H said:

Any support from the UK government should be contingent on flying the UK flag and employing as many British seafarers as possible. 

They won't do that, it is more likely that they will want to reduce crew costs (again) and get discounts from suppliers (probably retrospective), and then the owners will provide money.

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I'm sure you're right, it won't happen - but it should if the UK government supports them financially. 

It strikes me P&O ferries, as an operator, has been in decline for a long time. What does it actually stand for? What is their passion, their raison d'etre? Why would someone choose to sail with them over the competition? All they seem to have done is either retreated or watered down their passenger offering, for at least the past ten years. It seems an odd, muddled company to me without a clear sense of direction. 

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OK, I'm a bit dim when it comes to these things, but how does the space charter agreement not fall foul of competition rules ?  Not saying it doesn't make sense, but the relevant competition authorities may not see it that way.

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With regard to the space sharing, there is some debate in other forums about the competition element of this. However, similar arrangements are in place in other countries in the EU. 

It does appear, sadly as @Ryan_H so rightly says that this is indeed a company that has been in decline, probably for at least 10 years. I would be interested how much they got for the 2 Zeebrugge boats, and note that at least one of Pride of Hull/Rotterdam is currently listed online for circa 80million Euro. I wouldn't be surprised to see their routes sold off, probably to different operators. The P & O owned berths in Rotterdam could well be of interest to other operators for instance, I think Stena lease their neighbouring berth from them? That said, they (P&O) have recently put a lot of emphasis on logistics in Holland and that seems to be something they are trying to push. 

 

Would Stena return to Dover? Or could we see ICG move in more permanently? 

Would ICG be interested in the Larne route too? 

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3 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

It strikes me P&O ferries, as an operator, has been in decline for a long time. What does it actually stand for? What is their passion, their raison d'etre? Why would someone choose to sail with them over the competition? All they seem to have done is either retreated or watered down their passenger offering, for at least the past ten years. It seems an odd, muddled company to me without a clear sense of direction. 

Yep, sums it up nicely.  Except I’d probably put the decline at a good deal longer than 10 years.  Maybe even three or four times that long.  Hull aside, I can’t think of a whole lot that is positive that P&O has contributed to the ferry world since....when?  I don’t know.  Struggling to pin a date on it.  Maybe since the Cairnryan twins entered service.

Hull has been an undoubted success.  No doubt about that.  And it’s been a P&O success, all the way.  From Norland/Norstar in the mid-70s, to Norsea/Norsun in the mid-80s, through to the current Rotterdam pair.

But aside from Hull, what has P&O done?  They’ve inherited a whole load of routes from Townsend Thoresen, most of which they’ve shut down.  The two exceptions to that are Cairnryan, where they built a couple of decent ships, purpose built for the route.  A plus.  And Dover-Calais, where they have spent most of two decades surviving on either Townsend Thoresen inherited tonnage or second-rate freighter conversions.  The two new builds have been questionable investments.

Other than that, they presided over the demise of Pandoro, the demise of Portsmouth, the loss of the Orkney and Shetland contracts, the systematic dismantling of the rest of the Townsend Thoresen network and a general east coast move towards freight-only operations.

All the while, the base of the company has been relocated to Dubai, and the fleet systematically re-flagged away from the Red Ensign.

I come back to, Hull aside, what was the last really positive thing that P&O really contributed to the ferry world?  I don’t have an answer.  Whatever it was, it was a very, very long time ago.  This is a company that outlived its usefulness many decades ago.

 

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3 hours ago, Ryan_H said:

It seems an odd, muddled company to me without a clear sense of direction. 

Could it be a clear step by step plan to eventually exit the passenger ferry business, with P&O concentrating on the multi modal freight market. DP World bought back P&O Ferries and specifically their multi modal subsidiary Ferrymasters, to go alongside their Unifeeder multi modal operation.

While it helps them manage capacity currently, the Dover Calais space agreement could also help, if in return for passing freight P&Os way, passenger services were transferred to DFDS when the time came - 'it was a natural fit with a trusted working partner'. Irish Ferries with their service would help this P&O plan move forward as passenger interests are still protected with two passenger operators etc.

And the bigger ships on order, more freight space. Two thirds of the passenger areas can be closed down with the "intelligent power and lighting systems" to save energy and improve efficiency. That third of space left would also be the amount of space for the freight drivers when "passenger numbers are low in the off peak".

It won't be that straight forward but something along these lines.

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59 minutes ago, Pegpilot said:

how does the space charter agreement not fall foul of competition rules ? 

Dover Calais competition includes the Tunnel which has a larger share of this market and the real threat to the sea routes, not other ferry operators. Plus the agreement states that each company will market the route independently, covering their backsides.

To counteract the Tunnel as the majority competitor, the Dover ferry companies should have collaborated on a code / space sharing arrangement long ago for freight and passengers. 

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Years ago we had shares in P&O which gave good discounts. Shares became warrants (when P&O taken over) with similar discounts but routes dwindled and better offers by the company and the tunnel meant the warrants haven't been use for years. 

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On 01/06/2021 at 00:26, Gareth said:

The two new builds have been questionable investments.

Not sure about that? they seem to have done well commerically. I don't think there was anything wrong with the Darwins either, when they arrived. Again, commercially a good call?

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