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Condor withdraw from inter-island ferry talks

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CONDOR have pulled out of talks to run a dedicated inter-island ferry service – blaming the States of both Jersey and Guernsey for being too slow in moving the project forward.

Condor Liberation

The ferry operator was one of a number of firms which had expressed interest in running a trial summer service between the islands.

A similar service – to be funded by Condor and the islands’ governments – was due to be launched last summer but collapsed when the Sarnians backed out of the project.

Condor have now withdrawn from new plans for a trial service for this year, stating that because of the length of time the process had taken, the two vessels they had planned to charter had now been deployed elsewhere.

They also raised concerns that the terms of the tender for the trial had changed – from a one-year service to five years.

Condor are the second operator to withdraw their interest, after marine services firm the Bachmann Group pulled out following concerns over costs.

In a statement, Paul Luxon, Condor’s chief executive, said that when the original 2017 plans collapsed the firm told Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham it was still interested in running a service the following summer.

‘Condor confirmed a willingness to honour its undertaking to Senator Farnham in Jersey and work in partnership on a similar trial for 2018.

‘Subsequently, in early autumn 2017, both islands opted to initiate an expression of interest (EOI) and invited submissions from prospective operators.

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‘Condor provided a response to the EOI indicating that we were ready to offer the trial on the same terms as last year and for project approval to be granted by both States no later than 30 November 2017.

‘This date was set in order to provide sufficient time for the service to be properly established and marketed and was also predicated on the basis that the two vessels we identified as being suitable continued to be available by the shipyard owner.

‘The EOI process has now progressed into a full tender, which was issued the week before Christmas and closed on 18 January 2018.’

He added: ‘The four months taken during the procurement phase has meant that we have been unable to commit to these two ships and are aware that they are in the process of being deployed elsewhere.

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‘Furthermore, the terms of the tender have also changed as the original one-year trial has become five years and we remain concerned that there is only a very short timeframe available to prepare and launch the new service.

‘Regrettably therefore, we were unable to submit a tender bid and withdrew from the process earlier this month.’

Senator Farnham said that while it wasn’t ‘appropriate’ for him to comment on individual cases during a live tender, he said: ‘They have obviously decided not to tender for their own reasons, and are no longer part of the process.’

Senator Farnham added that he could confirm ‘to the best of his knowledge’ there were nine other operators in the bidding process.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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