A Great Week for Condor Ferries – Iceland Volcano

TODAY: Condor Ferries announces the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art fast ferry for its Channel Island services, among several pieces of good new for the operator this week.

Plus, a volcano in Iceland is threatening to erupt. Lovemaking couples in Spain are fined for not wearing seatbelts. Concerns over the number of unroadworthy trucks on Belgian roads, and increasing fuel taxes. The EU’s Galileo GPS system starts in 2020. Skoda workers earn an average £980 per month. Truck queues at the Serbia-Croatia border continue to build. A video on roads reconstruction in Moldova.

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A GREAT WEEK FOR CONDOR FERRIES

Channel Islands operator gets new contract, new ship and Clipper back early. But it’s bad news for Weymouth.

Austal 102 high speed ferry (picture courtesy of Austal).

Austal 102 high speed ferry (picture courtesy of Austal).

Condor Ferries has finalised the deal to buy a new high-speed ferry.

The Austal 102, built in Australia at a cost of £50m, will enter service in spring 2015 between the UK and the Channel Islands. The purchase had been rumoured for some time.

However, the new vessel will not fit the company’s base in Weymouth and will operate from Poole instead, at least in the medium term.

Condor CEO James Fulford said, ‘Poole is a modern and well-connected port, well-liked by our customers.

We recognise that this is disappointing news for Weymouth. However, given the need for berth improvements and an Environmental Impact Assessment, Weymouth is not currently in a position to accommodate the 102.

Reaching a medium-term arrangement with Poole will give certainty to our customers, our Islands, and Poole Harbour Commissioners, whilst also allowing enough time for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council to establish their long term plans for their port.’

Condor’s existing high-speed ferries will operate from Weymouth until the new boat enters service.

The news tops a good week for the operator. It was announced on Friday that it had renewed its licence to run services to the Channel Islands for a further ten years. On Monday it said its Commodore Clipper conventional ferry would re-enter service this weekend, earlier than planned, and after a complete refurbishment, following a bottom-scraping incident last month.

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A special English language section of the National Icelandic Broadcasting Service has been set up to monitor the situation at the Bardarbunga volcano. The area in red is the danger zone, now evacuated, with roads closed all the way up to Route 1, but there are no definitive signs yet of an eruption. If it does the most likely result is massive flooding in the north. The last time a volcano erupted in Iceland, in 2010, European airspace was shut for a week and cross-channel ferries were packed out. For the latest info see ruv.is/volcano.

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roundup: SPAIN. A routine breathalyser stop revealed three couples in the back of a car having sex. They were reportedly fined €200 for not wearing seatbelts. BELGIUM. One in seven trucks are not roadworthy say inspectors, mostly due to faulty tyres or brakes. Foreign vehicles account for two thirds of the trucks on Belgian roads but the problem applies to domestic vehicles too. Meanwhile, fuel taxes are likely to increase when the new government takes office, possibly to even out the price differential. Petrol currently sells for €1.615/l on average and diesel €1.436, currently the eighth and thirteenth most expensive in Europe respectively. GALILEO. Two more satellites for the EU’s own global positioning system launch tomorrow. After years of cost overruns and delays the system is now expected to be up and running by 2020. CZECH REPUBLIC. Out of interest, the latest statement from Skoda Auto reveals that the company’s average monthly salary stands at 34,000CZK (£980). The firm is taking on 800 new employees ahead of the launch of the new Fabia supermini. SERBIA. The truck queue at the Batrovci border crossing with Croatia is worsening. After a delay of twelve hours yesterday, today it reached fifteen hours. It’s not clear why. Most other border points are operating normally.

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MOLDOVA: loans from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and European Investment Bank (EIB), and grants from Luxembourg, totalling €670m are helping reconstruct 830km of key roads in the land-locked south east European country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine:

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GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: quiet overnight, max 40min delay am, 1h30 pm.

CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS PETITION: 3,219 signatures since 15.7. See @Justice4Trucker.

CONDOR FERRIES rescheduled services, Commodore Clipper on course to return 22 August.

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