Direct sea routes to France to avoid road freight delays via Brexit, Britain have dampened income for Irish Ferries owner ICG, while Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has warned that European airlines faced a gloomy winter as Covid cases skyrocketed.
ICG – in which its managing director Eamonn Rothwell has long held a significant stake – is one of the largest freight and passenger carriers across the Irish Sea. It has also been operating a Dover-Calais line since the summer.
In its latest update, ICG highlighted the increase in business in direct maritime services which exploded following the signing of the trade and cooperation agreement in December which marked Britain’s exit from the single market. of the EU.
Since then, carriers say they have moved exports and imports to sea routes to reach EU markets directly and avoid long delays at Channel ports in Kent.
In total, ICG achieved a turnover of nearly 280 M € over 10 months at the end of October, up 22% compared to the same period of Covid-19 in 2020, but weighed down by a fuel bill which increased by € 17 million. The revenues of its ferry division increased by 24% to 144.5 million euros, helped by the summer recovery in travel, but nevertheless weighed down by the drop in roll-on, roll-off freight volumes “because more and more. more freight customers are taking the longer direct route to France ”.
Its container and terminals division in Dublin and Belfast would however have been stimulated by Brexit, with turnover up almost 21% to € 146.5 million over the period.
In the update, ICG said it is in the process of adding two more ships to join Inishmore Island on the Dover-Calais route by early next year.
Separately, Ryanair’s Mr O’Leary said European airlines are having a tough time by the end of the year due to renewed concerns over Covid-19 that will disrupt Christmas travel and bookings for early summer vacation.
“Until last weekend, things were going well. Volumes were back to about 100% of our pre-Covid pricing volumes, ”Mr. O’Leary said at an industry conference.
“I think we are in a difficult time between now and Christmas where it looks like Europe is going to get very nervous again at the worst time of the year when people are preparing their travel plans for Christmas,” he said. .