Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Bosses: Ferry route will be reinstated by April
By Sean O’Riordan - Irish Examiner
PORT of Cork management say they’re confident the Swansea-Cork ferry route will be reinstated by April.
A suitable ship has been identified which is presently berthed in Finland.
A bank has agreed to fund 60% of the start-up costs, an operator has also been identified and investors are in talks aimed at bridging a gap of just €3 million in financing.
The port’s commercial manager, Michael McCarthy, said the ship could be purchased for between €10 — €12m and would need about €500,000 in alterations to get it to comply with Irish standards.
He said the vessel, which has recently undergone a refit, could hold 1,800 passengers, 480 cars, plus freight and was also fitted out with 800 beds.
Capt McCarthy said the port authorities had a meeting with potential investors last Monday and would need to tie down a decision within the next two to three weeks if they are to be in time to market the route for the Summer season. “It would be an absolute sin if it doesn’t happen,” Capt McCarthy said.
Fáilte Ireland and Cork County Council have agreed to finance a marketing package.
Since the last ferry ceased operations two years ago it has been estimated that the south-west region has lost in excess of €70m in tourism revenue.
Capt McCarthy said a business plan showed the route’s first year of operation would reach break-even point, followed by a modest profit in year two, while attaining very profitable status in year three.
He said that analysing 18 years of previous Swansea-Cork Ferry operations showed even with very low passenger numbers and high oil prices the route was still viable.
Capt McCarthy also pointed out that hauliers had given a commitment to use the service if it becomes operational.
“There has never been a better time to start off and I’m optimistic we can bridge the gap. This is hugely important, it can bring 120,000 tourists per annum to the region,” he said.
Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating said port management had been acting as a facilitator to a number of different parties in the hope of bringing back the service. He also said he was optimistic of a positive outcome.
This news is really encouraging - but we still need your support to convince the people that need convincing that this ferry service is essential to tourism and business in West Cork, Kerry and South Wales. We also need a small amount of additional investment - please contact John Hosford or Michael McCarthy (Port of Cork) for details...
Please add your comments to our e-petition now ..... every ‘signature’ helps!
Thanks ! - Adrian