The news came as the company confirmed its worst full-year results in decades at its recent AGM – but it is moving forward with a five-year ‘stimulus’ plan and says new research by the London consultants Lek show passenger volumes are expected to return to 2019 levels by 2022.
In addition to freight-only services, Brittany Ferries passengers with their own transport can currently use a weekly Portsmouth-Cherbourg service with Galicia and a daily Portsmouth-Caen service with Mont St Michel.
Postponed from April, it is now taking reservations from May 17 for the Poole-Cherbourg crossings with the Barfleur crossings, Portsmouth-Saint-Malo with the Brittany crossings and Plymouth-Roscoff with Pont-Aven. It is also accepting foot passenger reservations again from that date. However, new postponements cannot be excluded.
For now, the Portsmouth-Le Havre link still only serves freight.
A company spokesperson said: “We really hope to restart services in mid-May and look forward to welcoming people back on board, but we are awaiting the results of the Global Travel Taskforce. [an advisory body to the UK government] report.
“We expect Boris Johnson to give some guidance on the way forward on April 5, but the plan to reopen international travel [outbound from the UK] We understand that will not be revealed until April 12, so it is impossible to say until then. We keep our fingers crossed.
He added: “The reality is that with the current restrictions in place and the limited staff we have, we are not able to accommodate all the passenger traffic that we would like. At this time, only essential travel is permitted.
“As we have nothing comparable to normal passenger traffic volumes, and given our public statements on the performance of our finances – this has been a disaster for us – we must take steps to minimize our costs and maintain the activity. functioning for years to come.
“We had to make extremely difficult decisions, some of which are unpleasant both for us and for our customers, including not restarting certain passenger services and not picking up passengers on foot, as we would have liked. We are very sorry for the passengers, but this is only the reality of the Covid crisis. ”
The firm carried less than a third of its usual number of passengers last year, and its revenue is down 57% from 2019. About 80% of its revenue typically comes from passenger traffic and 85% of the passengers are British. Freight traffic continued but volumes fell 20% last year.
However, based on the Lek study which indicates a strong recovery by next year, and its five-year stimulus plan, Brittany Ferries said in a statement that he believed he could “look beyond the current storm with optimism ”.
As part of this plan, it has identified ways to achieve savings of around 17-18 million euros per year and it is getting greener, with two new liquefied natural gas ships joining sister ship Galicia in 2022 and 2023.
It can also count on the continued support of its shareholders, in particular the French agricultural cooperatives and the regional councils of Normandy and Brittany, the firm said. The French government is also granting payroll tax relief for this year only; it has so far not accepted the firms’ request to extend this period to five years.
Other Channel ferry companies suffered less than Brittany Ferries during the pandemic, in part because they rely less on passengers than on freight. Routes are still underway at DFDS and P&O, although the latter still does not take passengers on foot.
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