Friday, December 3, 2010

DFDS Ship RoRo Freight Ferry Service To Stena

Irish Sea Services Change Hands
Shipping News Feature

UK – Yesterday, just five months after securing ownership of Norfolkline, Danish group DFDS have hived off their Northern Irish ferry services between Belfast and Birkenhead (Liverpool), and Belfast-Heysham to rivals Stena Line. The passenger and freight RoRo services will mean Stena taking over operations at the port terminals of Belfast, Birkenhead and Heysham and, with a few exceptions, all shore based staff at Belfast, Birkenhead and Heysham will be transferred to Stena, maintaining their current conditions of employment.

Also included in the deal are two RoRo ferries, the Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways plus two RoPax vessels currently on charter to DFDS. RoPax ships are ‘fast ferries’ with substantial passenger capacity. DFDS will continue to operate their Dublin-Birkenhead and Dublin-Heysham services from their current offices working alongside Stena staff until establishing their own port agency offices.

In a statement the CEO of DFDS, Niels Smedegaard said:

"The Irish routes we took over in conjunction with the purchase of Norfolkline have, in spite of the recent impressive efforts by everyone employed on the routes, in the last two years lost more than €30 million. Given the depressed economies a turnaround of the activities, without structural solutions, is not realistic. On this basis, we have decided to scale back our activities and sell the two routes to and from Belfast.

“We thank every staff member at the northern routes warmly for the hard work done, and wish all staff that have changed to Stena Line all the best in the future. Also I would like to thank customers on the routes to and from Belfast for the loyalty and support which they have shown towards DFDS.”

The DFDS staff at Dublin are unaffected by the changes whilst the company continues to review the Irish services with a report which should be prepared within three months. Meanwhile two RoPax vessels the Liverpool Seaways and Dublin Seaways work the Dublin to Birkenhead route and the 120 trailer freight vessel Anglia Seaways continues on the Dublin to Heysham route.

Former Norfolkline owners, A P Moller Maersk who gained over 30% of DFDS shares as part of the earlier sale, will doubtless be pleased to see its new partner’s pre-tax profit estimate jump from €33 to €58 after the €60 million deal with Stena.