Brittany Ferries sounds alarm over Brexit impact

Image courtesy of Brittany Ferries

French shipping company Brittany Ferries has expressed concerns amid growing uncertainty over a Brexit deal and the impact on its business, including the demand for its new liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered vessel.

To remind, the company’s LNG-powered cruise ferry Honfleur, currently being at the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellshaft shipyard in Germany, is set to be delivered in spring next year.

However, the uncertainties created by the UK’s planned exit from the European Union in March next year could significantly affect the demand for the vessel that will operate on the company’s busiest route from UK’s Portsmouth to France’s Caen.

Brittany Ferries’ chief executive officer Christophe Mathieu said on October 19 that the company was sounding the alarm due to “a worrying downward trend” in family bookings with the company for summer next year.

“A poor (Brexit) deal, or perhaps no deal at all, could impact Brittany, Normandy and the Loire, regions that have benefited directly from the links we have established and the demand we have grown for Brits traveling overseas over the last 45 years,” Mathieu said discussing the company’s passenger traffic for this summer.

Brittany Ferries’ passenger traffic rose 2 percent this summer when compared to the previous year. However, the company has warned of serious consequences for international tourism and the regions it serves if a Brexit deal “does not bring certainty and the free movement across borders enjoyed by customers today.”

“While the summer period saw an encouraging rise in passenger traffic, we cannot afford to be complacent,” said Mathieu.

“Eighty five percent of our passengers are British holidaymakers visiting key regions in France and northern Spain. And we know that uncertainty and instability in the UK will have consequences on both sides of the English Channel,” he said.

Brittany Ferries has previously announced a significant investment in fleet renewal, which includes the LNG-powered Honfleur. Two more ships will follow as part of the company’s €450m investment in the future.

“But we need to make sure we have passengers and freight to fill these new ships,” Mathieu said reflecting on the potential Brexit impact.

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