Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Rival Ferry Groups Partner Up to Rationalise Channel Freight Crossings

Charter Agreement Means Trailers Can Board the First Sailing
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – P&O Ferries and DFDS have reached an agreement to make freight space on their Dover-Calais ships available to one another as the two companies aim to maintain customer service levels on the route and ensure its continued resilience.

Under the space charter agreement freight drivers can arrive at either the Port of Dover or Port of Calais and board the next available sailing, irrespective of whether the ferry is operated by P&O Ferries or DFDS. David Stretch, Chief Executive of P&O Ferries, said:

“After the pandemic, during which we did everything we could to keep essential goods moving at a time of national crisis, the best way to ensure that we can continue to run vital freight services on Dover-Calais is to build on our relationship with DFDS and enter this space charter agreement.

“It will ensure the continued resilience of the principal UK-EU trade route on which thousands of businesses and millions of consumers rely. It will also maintain service levels for our customers by reducing the time drivers spend waiting at the ports, giving them access to a departure every 36 minutes and reducing gate-to-gate journey times by an estimated 30 minutes.”

The agreement starts this summer and covers all eight ships on Dover-Calais including the P&O Ferries-owned Spirit of Britain, Spirit of France, Pride of Canterbury, Pride of Kent and Pride of Burgundy and the DFDS-owned Cote des Flandres, Cote des Dunes and Calais Seaways.

Whilst the agreement means that capacity is shared, all commercial activities remain entirely under the control of each operator.

The new agreement is for freight vehicles only and does not apply to sailings on the Dover-Dunkirk route, which is solely operated by DFDS and will continue to provide a convenient alternative from Dover, with regular sailings and access to the Northern European road network. Filip Hermann, Vice-President and Head of Channel Routes for DFDS, commented:

“Our focus is always to improve the ferry offering to freight customers. With this new space charter agreement in Dover-Calais we offer faster crossings and flexibility to relieve congestion and keep trade flowing.”

The two ferry companies carry more than 2.5 million lorries across the English Channel every year, making it the busiest trade route between the UK and Europe, maintaining the flow of essential items including food, medicines and other materials into and out of the UK.