Brittany Ferries publishes full-year passenger and freight results

3rd November 2022

Brittany Ferries has today published figures outlining passenger and freight performance for its financial year (November to October). The figures reveal strong passenger performance on routes connecting the UK with Spain – and France with Ireland – but a fall in traffic on the English Channel.

Freight has also struggled to recover 2019 levels, the last pre-Covid comparison year. Figures (see below) show a 27 percent reduction in freight carried on UK-France routes, and a 22 percent decline on UK-Spain. France-Ireland and Ireland-Spain are welcome exceptions to the downward trend, reflecting lower volumes using the so-called UK land-bridge in transporting goods between EU member states.

Brittany Ferries says it is optimistic for the year ahead. Forward reservations are positive, and there are no barriers to passengers crossing borders, as there were in France at the beginning of 2022.

Freight performance: November 2021 to October 2022:

Brittany Ferries salutes freight companies and drivers who helped keep the business operating and carried essentials like medicines across borders during the Covid crisis.

However, in its first post-Covid year, the company is concerned by a drop in overall demand on UK-France and UK-Spain services. Brexit controls have played a role in this trend. The company says it will do all it can to offer operators an alternative to short-sea crossings, the Covid crisis having demonstrated the need for resilience and sea-borne-freight options beyond Dover.

Freight carried Nov-Oct 2019 2020 2021 2022 2019 v 2022
UK-France          158,524          126,094          111,851          115,376 -27%
UK-Spain            36,657            31,754            27,049            28,618 -22%
Ireland-Spain              5,020              1,899            11,419            13,644 172%
France-Ireland              1,357                  629              4,051              9,587 606%


While Brexit has had a negative effect on routes connecting the UK, it has created opportunities elsewhere on the company’s route network. New services have been launched connecting France directly with Ireland, exploiting what operators call The Brexit by-pass. This means avoiding the UK land-bridge entirely when shipping goods between France and Ireland. Volumes have risen more than six-fold to 9,587 units.

Ireland-Spain has also posted positive results. Freight volumes rose 172 percent to 13,644 units, with an accelerating trend towards unaccompanied or driverless loads. These now comprise 45 percent of the total carried.

Passenger numbers: UK-Spain surges forward, UK-France falls back

The last 12 months have painted an optimistic picture on many routes, but concern on others.

Long routes, for example UK to Spain, have seen a significant increase in passenger numbers. Volumes rose by 9 percent to 320,364 units (November 2021 to October 2022). This has helped Brittany Ferries record a positive financial performance for the year (please note financial figures will not be released before the AGM next March). Equally Ireland – France connections have surged forward, thanks in part to an increase in services linking Brittany and Normandie with Cork and Rosslare.

However, volumes on Channel routes are a concern.

“While our long routes have surged forwards, the Channel is a real concern for Brittany Ferries and our partners,” said Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu. “Overall volumes were down by 35 per cent to 1.22 million units in the last year. There are a number of reasons for this disappointing performance, including French borders re-opening in mid-January missing much of the busiest period for holiday bookings post-Christmas.

“But the post-Brexit imposition of passports for French passengers visiting the UK has dramatically hit this side of our business too. What is needed now is a concerted push from tourist bodies in France and the UK to boost volumes next year and to aid the recovery of this market for us and other companies operating in the tourism sector.”

Passengers Nov-Oct 2019 2020 2021 2022 2019 v 2022
Roscoff-Plymouth 314,099 73917 26874 207015 -34%
St Malo – Portsmouth 310,216 84495 47302 244188 -21%
Cherbourg – Poole 187,705 28219 0 134005 -29%
Cherbourg – Portsmouth 136,938 10205 5168 57294 -58%
Caen – Portsmouth 801,805 266001 163748 583760 -27%
Le Havre – Portsmouth 134,803 24278 0 0 -100%
Total Manche / Channel 1885566 487115 243092 1226262 -35%
FR-Ireland 89804 8288 28605 131058 46%
UK-Spain-Ireland 294329 111251 151009 320364 9%
Total passengers (all lines) 2269699 606654 422706 1677684 -26%


Fleet renewal continues apace

Launched in March 2022, Salamanca is the first of four Brittany Ferries vessels to be powered by cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG) as part of investment in fleet renewal.

She will operate throughout the winter and into next summer on the Cherbourg and Bilbao to Rosslare routes. The aim is to grow by 50,000 the number of holiday makers sailing between Ireland and Spain. Operating under the French flag, Salamanca will be crewed by French seafarers and can carry 1,015 passengers.

The ship has been operating the Portsmouth-Cherbourg and Portsmouth-Bilbao route since her introduction into service with Brittany Ferries in March this year. A second LNG-powered vessel called Santoña will join the fleet in March next year. She too will be based in Portsmouth.

Santoña will be followed by two LNG-electric hybrid vessels in 2024/2025, replacing two of the longest serving ships in the fleet Bretagne (1989) and Normandie (1992).

The hybrids will call Portsmouth home, and will serve St Malo in Brittany and Caen in Normandie. They will work like a hybrid car, sailing on cleaner gas power, on electricity or on a combination of the two. They will also be plug-in ready, when investment in port re-charging infrastructure allows.


About Brittany Ferries

Brittany Ferries was conceived in 1972, starting life as a freight-only service on 2nd January the following year. The first ferry (Kerisnel) linked Roscoff in Brittany with Plymouth in the South of England and carried a cargo of artichokes and cauliflowers. Since then the company has progressively launched, then strengthened its shipping routes. This year, Brittany Ferries celebrates 50 years in operation. Millions of passengers and businesses transporting goods by sea across the so-called Atlantic Arc (France, UK, Spain and Ireland) rely on the links forged over the decades. In addition to cutting congestion and emissions on busy roads, these motorways-of the sea have helped enrich local communities, creating jobs and nurturing international tourism.


(Image file)