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Condor CEO pushes for "brilliant" ID card scheme expansion

Condor CEO pushes for

Thursday 28 March 2024

Condor CEO pushes for "brilliant" ID card scheme expansion

Thursday 28 March 2024


The boss of Brittany Ferries – and current Interim CEO of Condor – is urging Jersey to expand the post-Brexit scheme allowing French tourists to visit the island without a passport.

Noting that only around half of the French population has a passport, Christophe Mathieu said that the drop in visitors to Jersey from France had still not "recovered" after Brexit stopped free movement.

He noted that last year saw the launch of a pilot scheme enabling French nationals visiting for a day trip – on commercial passenger ferries – to enter the island using their national ID cards for a day-return trip.

It was later confirmed that the scheme would be extended into 2024, following a rise in day-trippers from France after the programme began.

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Pictured: The pilot scheme allowing French nationals to visit for day trips using their national identity cards was launched in April 2023.

It also emerged that, pending discussions with the UK government, the scheme could be expanded to cover three-day trips.

"It would be absolutely brilliant"

Mr Mathieu described the initiative as "a great idea".

"We understand that there are discussions to maybe extend that to 72 hours, which would be fantastic news for the island," he said.

"I have just had a meeting with Visit Jersey and I think we both agree that it would be absolutely brilliant."

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Pictured: Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu is also the Interim CEO of Condor.

Mr Mathieu also revealed that Condor would be returning to its pre-Covid sailing schedule.

The changes, which will take effect in May, will include more frequent sailings between Jersey and St Malo.

He said: "I would love to have that [ID card scheme] matching because we are creating the condition for more French people to visit if they could have this special allowance.

"That would be hugely beneficial for everybody."

"Determined" to win the tender

His comments come amid discussions with Jersey and Guernsey, who are trying to secure a new operating agreement for freight and passenger ferry services, with Condor’s current agreement due to end next year.

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Pictured: Mr Mathieu said Condor was "determined" to secure a new long-term operating agreement with Jersey and Guernsey.

“We are expecting both islands to publish a tender and we are, of course, determined to answer and win the tender,” he continued.

He also said that the company was taking a more "integrated" approach that involved looking at Condor "as part of Brittany Ferries’ operations".

"Far more involved" with Condor

Mr Mathieu continued: “We’ve decided – and that’s why I’ve stepped in as interim CEO of Condor – that Brittany Ferries, we want to get far more involved in the business of the Channel Islands with Condor.”

He explained that islanders would “soon” be able to take advantage of combined tickets offers between the two companies.

“So, if you live in the island and you go to the UK or to France [with Condor] – and you want to connect to Ireland or to Spain [with Brittany Ferries] – we will make it an offer with combined tickets,” he explained.

On Tuesday, a 157-metre Brittany Ferries passenger ship – Barfleur – successfully completed a berthing trial in Elizabeth Harbour.

No permanent Barfleur service

The vessel is capable of carrying up to 900 passengers and 590 cars, making it larger than any of the conventional and high-speed craft in Condor’s fleet.

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Pictured: The Brittany Ferries passenger ship Barfleur is larger than any vessel in Condor’s fleet. 

Mr Mathieu said: “We [Brittany Ferries] are getting far more involved in Condor and, therefore, as part of this involvement – and also for the good of the island and for the good of Condor – we needed to have this exercise.

“Unfortunately, we cannot think of a future where we would operate all year round [from Jersey] with a ship like Barfleur.

“It’s more for winter coverage or dry-dock coverage, or if there is a problem with one of Condor’s existing vessels; at least we know we can step in very quickly with Barfleur.

"But the port facility does not allow for a permanent Barfleur service.”

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