15 March 2019 Brittany Ferries statement – DfT contract (dedicated NHS shipment channel)
Under a contract agreed with the Department for Transport, Brittany Ferries added 20 sailings on three cross-channel routes, to carry NHS medicines and other priority goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The contract included fair and proportionate terms for payment in a deal scenario, taking account of the significant preparatory work and concomitant costs incurred by Brittany Ferries.
Brittany Ferries has been working since December 2018 to prepare for the dedicated NHS shipment channel, as it has been described by some. That has led to a series of direct costs and resource commitments, the consequence of increasing weekly crossings between the UK and France. The new schedule cannot now be changed, even as an extension to article 50 seems likely.
Preparatory work for dedicated NHS shipment channel:
Brittany Ferries has incurred and will continue to incur direct costs. These include additional port dues in France and the UK that the company must pay as a result of more sailings. Fuel costs will also increase. Brittany Ferries sails on the western Channel (the widest stretch of sea between the UK and France) and 20 additional sailings equates to around 2,000 nautical miles per week.
Additional staff have been employed in our ports to manage the additional crossings and administration. Training of existing staff has also been on-going since the start of the year.
More than 20,000 existing passenger bookings have been changed by customer relations teams, a consequence of preparing for schedule changes. This has involved manually changing more than 3,000 travel plans to minimise inconvenience to passengers and to maintain goodwill. In addition, all communications, marketing materials and website presentations have been amended.
Finally, senior management teams in the UK and France have been working on a daily basis with port colleagues to ensure that goods flow freely on both sides of the channel. That was a contractual commitment Brittany Ferries’ made to DfT, one that it has worked hard to meet.
In the UK for example, colleagues have been working closely through multi-agency Local Resilience Forums. In the port of Roscoff in Brittany, the company’s president Jean-Marc Roué welcomed Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Europe Minister for France. During their 7 March meeting, Jean-Marc Roué emphasised the importance of a robust border service. He urged the reinstatement of Police Aux Frontières in Roscoff, to ensure that medicines and other critical goods would flow freely on the company’s most westerly UK-France route.