Brittany Ferries – Department for Transport Contract: The Dedicated NHS Shipment Channel

29th March 2019

Brittany Ferries has been preparing since December to deliver the contract, commencing 29 March 2019.

We were originally approached by DfT with a request to guarantee freight space to carry critical products such as medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We had the flexibility on our routes and within our 11-ship fleet to meet that requirement and added 20 additional cross channel sailings every week on three established routes: Portsmouth-Le Havre, Poole- Cherbourg and Plymouth-Roscoff.

Since signing the contract in December 2018, we have worked hard to prepare for 29 March. As well as amending our schedules, more than 20,000 passengers have been informed of changes to their existing bookings. We apologise to all customers who have been inconvenienced, but we are doing our best to ensure a suitable alternative is found.

We have also made arrangements with our ports in the UK and France.  Weekly meetings at the highest levels have taking place to ensure all partners are prepared at the six ports affected.

As a consequence of increasing the frequency of sailings, we are committed to higher fuel costs. Our ships will sail an additional 2,000 nautical miles every week. We are also committed to higher port fees.

Fifty additional Brittany Ferries’ port staff have been hired on both sides of the channel to deal with more frequent port calls. We have also spent the last three months training current on-board teams.

The reality is that we were committed as soon as we signed the contract and preparations began to deliver the dedicated NHS shipment channel. There is no turning back at this late stage because all the preparatory work is now in place for 29 March.

We should also be clear however regarding the unforeseen delay to article 50: Brittany Ferries is commitment to use its best endeavours to sell as much unused DfT space as possible, thereby mitigating costs to the British taxpayer. While we cannot go into specific details we can confirm that space has already been re-sold on the open market for ferry services operating on 29 March.


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