Ferry service to get £100k subsidy?
A NEW inter-island ferry service is likely to be subsidised by up to £100,000 of government money to provide more sailings on the route, it has been revealed.
Earlier this month, a statement released by Jersey and Guernsey’s governments announced that the service would not require any funding.
However, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has now said that it is important the operation – which will be run by Manche Iles Express – was supported in its maiden year to ensure the company was able to offer the best service possible.
According to the current schedule, there are nine day-return crossings to Guernsey in May, eight in June, 11 in July, 11 in August and eight in September, with most taking place during the week. There is also one return service in April and October. A return fare costs £32 for adults and £22 for children.
In a statement, Senator Farnham said that both governments were in talks with the company about providing additional services and that he was willing to use up to £100,000 already allocated to the project to help fund it.
‘The new timetable recently published by Manche Iles Express following the tender process offers a greatly enhanced, low-priced, inter-island service without the need for financial support from the States.
‘Officers from my department and their Guernsey counterparts are in discussions with Manche Iles Express to enhance the timetable even further and the department has up to £100,000 available to achieve this,’ he said.
He added: ‘I very much hope that Islanders and visitors alike will really get behind this and support the new service to ensure its viability and longer term success. I expect the final timetables to be published shortly.’
Meanwhile, director of Manche Iles Express Hugues Gros said that there was currently no profitable market for the type of service being proposed by both governments, but that it could be done with financial help from the States.
‘I do not know what is going to happen yet but if Jersey and Guernsey want an increased number of crossings, there will have to be some financial participation – there needs to be a subsidy put in place by the government,’ he said.
‘We have already published our timetable for crossings between the two islands this year, but we have made a new proposal.
‘We are trying to have a meeting either in France or in Jersey to discuss this but during the winter season this is obviously very difficult.’
Mr Gros added that the company did not run the same business model as other ferry companies and only put on crossings when groups from tour companies had already made a booking.
He said: ‘The market is not there. Yes there are passengers, but not for a service such as this one.
‘Last year we had an average of 130 passengers per crossing between Jersey and Guernsey. If we have anything under that then we lose money.’