Eurotunnel concerns; all change at DFDS; congrats P&O

Congratulations to P&O which won Best Ferry Company at the Globe Travel Awards last night.

Deep Concerns about Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel broke several of its own records in 2012 – it’s busiest day ever on the Jubilee Weekend; 1,100 pets and a million passengers carried over Christmas.

Even so, the company seems reluctant to rely just on organic growth.

Back in June it bought the three ex-SeaFrance ferries and leased them to MyFerryLink in a move that disturbed competition authorities. Now it has pitched for the contract to run the ports in Calais and Boulogne for the next fifty years.

A Eurotunnel spokesman told Lloyds Loading List, ‘Our core business being the management of infrastructure, it’s quite natural that we are interested in running these ports.’

A P&O spokesman said however, ‘We’d have a situation where the group with the biggest share of cross-Channel trade would be running a key port, where its own ferries are operating and where P&O, its biggest competitor, has the core of its business. It’s unimaginable… Eurotunnel diversifying is one thing but this would be a big step too far.’

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke told the BBC he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the deal.

The winner will be announced later this year or early 2014. Funding of up to €500m has already been granted for improvements at Calais from 2015, including a new dock.

Even more ominously, Eurotunnel chief Jacques Gounon told Lloyds in March 2012, when the contract was first mentioned, ‘Why not include the state-owned port of Dunkirk too?’

electricferry-1[1]

Alternative fuels for ships are top of the agenda ahead of controversial new ultra low sulphur emission rules in 2015. It’s unlikely to be the solution across the English Channel but for crossings of less than 30 minutes, electric power could be the answer. Last week a pure electric ferry, linking up the E39 across the spectacular Sognefjord in the south west of Norway, was granted a 10 year operating licence from 2015. The 260ft double ended vessel, carrying 120 cars and 360 passengers, is powered by two 10 tonne electric motors, topped up at each end in ten minutes. Sognefjord is the longest fjord in Norway at 127 miles, surrounded by sheer cliffs of thousands of feet. The ferry will ply between Lavik and Oppedal.

All change at DFDS

According to LD Lines’ latest newsletter sent out Wednesday, DFDS has taken over all the company’s UK-France routes.

The two entered into a joint venture over the short Dover Strait crossings last year, using DFDS branding, but this is the first we have heard that DFDS will also operate LD Lines’ longer crossings, Portsmouth-Le Havre and Newhaven-Dieppe (though actually it was announced in October… ).

LD Lines will continue to operate its route St Nazaire-Gijon(Spain).

DFDS also announced a restructuring of its UK business this week, merging its entire UK operations. It also runs Newcastle-Amsterdam and Harwich-Esbjerg(Denmark).

The company has also been notably aggressive with its marketing recently, declaring its Christmas offers first and a host of other inducements, like free flexible tickets. It is also very active on Twitter. One to watch in 2013.

The deal opens up exciting possibilities to mix and match routes to France and northern Europe.

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