Monday, August 15, 2011

RoRo Ferry Company Faces More Secure Future

OfT Report Dropped
Shipping News Feature

UK - ISLE OF MAN – Management at the Ro/Ro ferry operator, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, are looking forward to a more secure future after the Office of Fair Trading dropped the proposed publication of its report into the running of the shipping company and its position in the market. As with so many smaller ferry routes worldwide controversy is never far away and things started looking up for the company when the additional rival container freight service started last October by Mezeron fell by the wayside in February this year due to low traffic volumes.

Last November the company issued a strongly worded statement debunking the argument that it operated a monopoly and intimated that the referral made to the OfT by the Tynwald, the Isle of Man parliament in 2007, was frivolous as fares were set in agreement with the parliament which itself agreed that passenger tariffs were competitive but felt unable to judge the validity of freight rates. The ferry operator has also previously come under fire for excessive fuel charges.

Now the OfT have belatedly agreed that since a there is no point to publishing the report which was no longer relevant covering as it did a period prior to the price war with Mezeron and substantial changes in the management structure of the RoRo ferry operator. CEO Mark Woodward commented in a written statement on the company’s website:

“The Steam Packet Company is pleased to note that the long running Office of Fair Trading investigation has now closed. The Tynwald Select Committee in 2007 found that passenger fares were 'very competitive' with other similar ferry companies, but were unable to objectively comment on freight charges, and suggested that the OFT consider this issue further.

“The OFT investigation into freight charges has noted that the recent period of freight competition with Mezeron has had a considerable effect on the current trading position of the Company. Accordingly, it has decided not to submit a report on the matter.”

“In recent years, the Steam Packet Company has experienced a number of protracted investigations into its affairs. These have absorbed considerable amounts of the Company's resources and diverted attention from the Company's principal objectives of providing a reliable and cost-effective service to Manx residents and visitors. The Company hopes that it can now concentrate its efforts on that task without further diversions.”