Brittany Ferries celebrates 40 years of ‘Spain without the plane’

25th April 2018
  • Pont Aven

20 April 2018

  • 79% increase in passenger numbers in last decade, from 183,578 in 2008 to 328,680 in 2017
  • More than 5.5 million passengers have made the voyage through the Bay of Biscay since operations began in 1978

In April 1978, Brittany Ferries launched passenger and freight services to Spain. At the time the company was little more than five years old, but this week it celebrates 40 years of continuous operations to Santander.

Spanish routes opened with Plymouth to Santander, a route which still operates today. Regular services from Portsmouth were added in 2009 as the next generation of cruise ferries cut journey times to little over 24 hours. Then in 2011 Brittany Ferries added Bilbao as a passenger destination, followed by the opening of freight-only services from Bilbao to Poole in 2016.

In 40 years of operations more than 4,000 calls have taken place in Spain, with around 5.5 million passengers carried. More than 1.5 million cars, motorhomes and bikes have also made the journey across the Bay of Biscay alongside around 6.5 million tonnes of commercial produce.

“From humble beginnings in 1973, Brittany Ferries grew quickly into a service connecting four countries,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO. “Today, services to Spain in the summer are among our most popular crossings. Passengers know that Spain without the ‘plane means freedom to explore, taking everything you need in your own car, motorhome or bike, and it starts with a fantastic voyage by sea.”

Images: Pont-Aven and Cap Finistère, Brittany Ferries cruise ferries on services to Spain


About Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries is a passenger car and freight service operating from eleven ports, linking four countries: UK – France, UK – Spain and Ireland – France. Its mission today is to reveal more of the fabulous holiday destinations around the coastlines of the European west.

The company was originally set up by a collective of French farmers as a freight-only operator, running from Roscoff in Brittany to Plymouth with the first crossing taking place on 1 January 1973, the date the United Kingdom joined the EEC (forerunner to the EU).

The aim then was to bring French agricultural products to a wider British market. However, the service quickly developed into an operation carrying hundreds of thousands of British tourists, eager to experience the delights of Brittany and Normandy. Today Brittany Ferries is the market leader on the Western Channel for passengers and for freight. It is also a leading supplier of ferry-inclusive motoring holidays to France and Spain. Further information can be found by visiting:


Christopher Jones on 02392 402 965 or 07917 540 878 or [email protected]

Nigel Wonnacott on 02392 402 943 or 07833 446 729 or [email protected]




Press Release (MS Word .doc file)
Pont Aven (Image file)