Monday, March 14, 2011

Falling Freight Volumes Offset By Passenger Upturn For Irish Ferries

Ship Sale Boosts Position but Fuel Cost and Irish Economy are Drag Factors
Shipping News Feature

IRELAND – The Irish Continental Group (ICG), have just released their trading figures and, given the country’s current trading position, the board consider them more than acceptable. The group includes LoLo container line Eucon plus Feederlink Shipping, both based in Holland and trading into Europe, plus cargo and passenger terminal services throughout Ireland and Irish Ferries for both RoRo freight and passenger links with France and the UK.

It seems that despite a severe downturn in freight volumes the group saw passenger numbers rise ‘considerably’ and when the sale of the vessel Bilbao is factored in, showing a profit of €9.4 million, it means overall revenue was up 0.7% to €260.5 million. Container numbers rose with TEU totals up 2.3% to 406,000 but RoRo freight units were down 9.2% to 178,000.

The passenger upswing carried the boost the group needed and, despite car numbers being down 2.4% to 367,000 the actual total of passengers carried jumped 7.8% to around 1.4 million. Commenting on the results Chairman John B McGuckian said:

‘‘Irish Continental Group delivered a strong set of results in 2010 with EBITDA up 5.7% to €53.6 million and EPS of 156.8c up 53.1%. Key factors in the results included a strong performance from the passenger side of our business, where revenue was up 12.3% and, the profit on the sale of the vessel Bilbao partially offset by a weakness in the freight side of the business due to the sharp reduction in economic activity in Ireland over the last number of years, and the effects of ship overcapacity in the market.

"For 2011 we are facing into an uncertain year with the combined effects of higher fuel costs and austerity programmes in Ireland and the UK providing a challenge. Nevertheless we have made a solid start to the year and with a strong balance sheet to support us we look forward to the rest of the year with confidence.’’