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Let battle commence! Fight to win the CI ferry contract begins

Let battle commence! Fight to win the CI ferry contract begins

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Let battle commence! Fight to win the CI ferry contract begins

Tuesday 14 May 2024


It's official: the battle to secure the contract for Jersey and Guernsey's passenger and freight services has begun, and there are two key contenders.

Both islands have launched their tender process and are now inviting bids from applicants "with the necessary experience and capability" with a submission deadline of 8 July.

So, who has thrown their hat in the ring?

Condor

Current incumbent, Condor, has been clear from the start that it is key to retain its position in the Channel Islands, with its current agreement due to end next year.

On a recent visit to the island, its Interim CEO Christophe Mathieu, who is also the boss of Brittany Ferries, said that the long-standing operator is “determined to answer and win the tender".

He said the operator was also pushing for the expansion of the post-Brexit scheme allowing French tourists to visit the island without a passport, and had met with Visit Jersey who he said agreed doing so would be "brilliant".

He said the operator would also link up more closely with Brittany Ferries, promising a fast vessel linking Jersey and Guernsey with Poole, and another with Saint Malo.

Christophe.jpg

Pictured: Brittany Ferries' chief executive Christophe Mathieu recently said the operator wanted to be "far more involved" in the Channel Islands.

 

And just hours after a competitor bid was launched by DFDS, the operator announced discounted fares on routes to Spain and Ireland. Under the new scheme, Condor passengers can save up to 30% off Brittany Ferries’ routes to destinations including Santander and Bilbao, and Rosslare in Ireland.

Mr Mathieu said: "This is a very good example of how our two companies can co-operate and we are delighted to open the extensive Brittany Ferries’ timetable and network to Channel Islanders.

"We believe this could also benefit inbound tourism, as we will offer a reduction for visitors to travel on Condor’s services to Jersey and Guernsey from these destinations this summer."

DFDS

Danish shipping company DFDS is hoping to beat Condor to secure the tender.

It recently held an open meeting in the Island, to gather feedback from a number of local businesses and other stakeholders seeking information about the operator and what it could offer – and to share plans for a hybrid-electric ferry intended to be used in the Channel Islands if it wins.

DFDS said that the hybrid-electric vessel could potentially accommodate both freight and passenger transport and be deployed on routes to and from the Channel Islands and France, should the operator be awarded the upcoming tender.

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Pictured: DFDS has commissioned a design study for a hybrid-electric vessel that could be used to service the Channel Islands.

Vice-president Filip Werne Hermann also noted that his firm had a “huge fleet” which presented an “opportunity” for the Channel Islands from a contingency perspective.

Speaking to Express, he added: “We are the biggest ferry operator and logistics company in Europe and it’s fair to say that we have a very long track record in reliability and punctuality that we can leverage here.

“I can already say now that we have learned a lot about what islanders and businesses want. I am sure we will learn a lot more in the coming days and the next step, for us, is to process all of this and prepare for the tender – which we will hopefully receive shortly.”

Decision time for politicians

The islands' governments want to have a decision made by the end of the year.

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

"The islands are working together with the shared objective of finding the operator which can deliver the best service in terms of resilience, reliability, passenger experience and sustainability.”

Deputy Neil Inder, President of Guernsey’s Committee for Economic Development said: “We have completed the initial market testing phase of this procurement process, and now we are inviting formal tenders from interested applicants.

"We remain on track to complete the overall process and make a final decision before the end of the year, in time for when the current agreement ends."

He continued: "This is an open and impartial procurement process being run jointly by Guernsey and Jersey, and we therefore don’t intend to provide an ongoing commentary or engage in speculation while it’s taking place. But we will provide the community with any significant updates as the process continues.”

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