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Jersey and Guernsey go shopping for "best" ferry deal

Jersey and Guernsey go shopping for

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Jersey and Guernsey go shopping for "best" ferry deal

Tuesday 16 January 2024


Condor may need to defend its position as the Channel Islands' key freight and passenger ferry provider following confirmation from Jersey and Guernsey that they are 'shopping around'.

Both islands' governments confirmed this morning that a procurement process had begun.

They stressed that the freight and passenger market is “contestable”, with Jersey’s Minister for Sustainable Economic Development, Deputy Kirsten Morel, going as far to say: “This procurement is an open and competitive process and we strongly encourage interest and engagement from all ferry operator parties within this initial market testing phase.”

It comes just weeks after it emerged that Condor was significantly hiking its freight prices in a move described as "brutal" for local retail. Shortly after, the ferry firm's management shot down speculation about its long-term financial health, instead announcing that it was undergoing a “temporary but challenging” time. However, public financial documents available on the Companies House website showed that Condor had to refinance a loan in 2023 amid what was described as a "challenging economic backdrop".

The States of Guernsey and Jersey subsequently commissioned a “resilience test” with a cargo ship that undertook berthing trials in St Peter Port and St Helier. 

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Pictured: Jersey and Guernsey's governments jointly commissioned berthing trials of the 163-metre long DFDS Finlandia Seaways in December.

Condor has an operating agreement with Jersey and a Memorandum of Understanding with Guernsey, with Jersey’s agreement having been in a wind-down phase for the past several years.  

The first stage of a procurement process for a new long-term agreement involves market testing and “comprehensive discussions” between the two islands. 

“The reason that we are going through this process is to ensure that we secure the best possible freight and passenger services for the Channel Islands," Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Kirsten Morel, said.

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Pictured: Deputy Morel said it was the "right time to look at what all operators in the market believe they can deliver".

He continued: “Condor has an operating agreement with Jersey, and a memorandum of understanding with Guernsey to provide our sea connectivity: 98% of goods consumed in Jersey arrive by sea, so every islander and every island business is reliant on these services. 

"We are in the winding down period of the current operating agreement, which ends in 2025.

"This is, therefore, the right time to look at what all operators in the market believe they can deliver in terms of resilience, reliability, passenger experience and sustainability."

“Sea connectivity is absolutely vital for the Channel Islands, and it is clear to both Islands that in order to get the best outcomes for our community, our economy and our visitors that we must work in lockstep,” added Guernsey’s Economic Development Lead, Deputy Neil Inder. 

“We are starting this process now in order to make sure it’s completed in good time for when the current agreement comes to an end. We will welcome competitive submissions from prospective operators, including of course the current and longstanding operator Condor. The priority is of course ensuring the best possible freight and passenger services for the Channel Islands market are secured.

"Deputy Morel and I are fully committed to working together through this process, and securing the best outcomes we can get for the Channel Islands as a whole.”

It’s unclear how this process will impact the relationship between Guernsey and Condor, after Guernsey's leaders was instructed to give £3million of public money to Condor to buy the new Islander ferry, along with a government loan facility of £26million. Express has sought clarity on this point.

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