Brexit-free summer drives surge in last-minute get-aways, says Brittany Ferries

19th July 2019

Brittany Ferries has reported a surge in last-minute reservations for ferry travel to France and Spain, just ahead of the busy summer season. In the last two weeks, reservations have soared by 25%, with 15,000 more passengers booking summer holidays, compared with the same period last year.  

The strong figures follow a weak start to the year. In March, the company blamed Brexit uncertainty for a 10% dip in summer reservations. But since the announcement that Britain’s exit from the EU would be delayed until Halloween, holiday makers have steadily returned to the market. This culminated in a dramatic last-minute surge reported throughout July.

 “At the start of the year, things looked bleak and the numbers got progressively worse as we approached 29 March,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO.  “We really feared for the summer season. However, the latent demand we hoped for seems to be returning to the market largely thanks to a Brexit-free summer. We may not quite match last year’s figures, but last-minute reservations have helped us claw back a significant part of the downturn.”

 Brittany Ferries sails from three ports in the UK, Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. It serves five destinations in France and two in northern Spain. The company carries around 2.5 million passengers each year on a fleet of 12 ships, 85% of whom are British.


 About Brittany Ferries

 In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK.

 In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born. The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story therefore begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market (EEC). From these humble beginnings however Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

 Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative. Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British. Around 210,000 freight units are carried each year.

 Key figures:

Turnover: Approximately €444.2m per year

Employment – Between 2400 and 3100 employees (including 1,700 seafarers), depending on the season. 360 in the UK.

Passengers: Between 2.5 and 2.7 million each year travelling in approximately 900,000 cars

Freight: 205,400 units transported annually, and one freight-only route linking Bilbao and Poole

Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain

Eleven ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff

Tourism in Europe: There were 854,000 unique visitors, staying 9.2 million bed-nights in France.


Ellis Malcolm on 02392 892 221 or 07464 980 594 or [email protected]

Christopher Jones on 02392 152 291 or 07917 540 878 or [email protected]

Nigel Wonnacott on 02392 152 273 or 07833 446 729 or [email protected]


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