Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UK Ferry Freight Rises to All Points for Fifth Consecutive Year as Migrant Situation Eases

Recovering Economy and Cheap Pound Boosts Trade
Shipping News Feature
UK – Freight carried on UK ferries rose by 3.5% in 2016 as an indicator of a recovering economy in the UK and Ireland according to a survey conducted by a ferry industry body, Discover Ferries, confirming some of our previous articles on tonnages at French, Belgian and Irish ports. Some 4.57 million freight vehicles were carried on ferries in 2016 with increases on three main sectors surveyed between the UK and Ireland or continental Europe. Traffic has grown for the last five years and has risen by 19.6 % since 2011.

The most popular freight sector, on routes between Dover and Calais/Dunkerque, saw a 2.1 % increase to 2.59 million units. Freight on these routes is up 25% in the last four years, with Dover seeing £119 billion of trade moving through the port each year. A further factor in the strong performance has been in the improvements in late 2016 to security at the Port of Calais, including the closure in October of the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp by French authorities. Bill Gibbons, director of Discover Ferries which conducted the survey, said:

“These are strong figures and are an indicator of the recovering Irish and British economies and show the continuing success story of ferry freight. Ferry freight which has risen in the last five years. This is a very positive story in this sector and one that should continue despite the uncertainly surround Brexit.”

Mr Gibbons said ferry freight was forecast to grow further over the coming decade, driven by the development of Dover traffic, although his opinion is that this is dependent on the UK remaining part of the European customs union or finding a solution that will not hamper the flow of goods through UK ports.

The Port of Dover recently revealed it enjoyed its busiest day ever for freight in November with more than 10,500 freight vehicles crossing in one day. Freight on the Irish Sea routes rose by 6% to 1.72 million units including 500,000 units on routes to Belfast from Heysham, Cairnryan and Liverpool, a record year for freight on these routes. Western Channel routes were also up by 2.4 % to 254,000 units.

Photo: The Port of Dover.