Talks with Condor over new passenger ferry
CONDOR is being encouraged to introduce a new passenger-carrying ferry to its fleet and any new owner of the company will be urged to do so, the Economic Development Minster has said.
The ferry company is currently owned by a fund, run by Australian bankers Macquarie, which has come to the end of its lifespan and is set to be sold. Interested parties are rumoured to include French firm Brittany Ferries and Danish company DFDS.
Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, who has ministerial responsibility for the Island’s ports, said that he was monitoring the situation.
‘Macquarie is still completely committed to the business but it is now for sale,’ he said.
‘I understand that there has been interest from two or three larger companies and we are just watching closely as to how that process pans out.’
Condor operates four ferries which service the Island – the Liberation and Rapide fast ferries, the Clipper freight and passenger boat and the Goodwill, which is a specialised freight ship.
Senator Farnham said that talks were ongoing about replacing the Goodwill with another Clipper-style boat.
‘We are in advanced discussions with Condor at the moment about the reconfiguration of their fleet to provide more resilience for when there are delays due to bad weather or technical issues,’ he said.
‘Those discussions are progressing well and I will be progressing the same discussions with any new owner of Condor.
‘We would like to see the freight-only ship replaced with a freight and passenger ship, so effectively there are two fast ferries and two traditional ferries.
‘So, especially over the winter months, when there is disruption to the fast-ferry services due to bad weather, you would have two traditional ferries that can carry passengers operating rather than just one.’
The Senator added that new owners may provide the capital required for the necessary investment to update the fleet.
‘Running a company like this is very capital intensive – there are hundreds of millions of pounds tied up in their infrastructure and fleet,’ he said.
‘If Jersey were to replicate Condor’s ten-year contract with Condor or any new company, it would be dependent on all parties being satisfied that there is significant investment and improvement in the resilience in the fleet.’
Condor chief executive Paul Luxon said that he could not comment on Senator Farnham’s proposals at this time but confirmed that Condor has been in ‘constructive’ talks with government ministers.
‘Condor is committed to ongoing and constructive dialogue with the ministers from both the States of Jersey and Guernsey about future fleet improvements and investments,’ he said.
‘Those discussions have been very constructive.’