Scotland business

CalMac passenger numbers hit five million as losses double

calmac ferry Image copyright CalMac
Image caption CalMac ferries carried five million passengers last year

Caledonian MacBrayne passenger numbers hit five million last year but its losses doubled to just under £5m.

The ferry operator, owned by the Scottish government, said passenger traffic went up by 2% and vehicles 9% during 2015/16 while total turnover increased from £172m to £190m.

The company said the losses were down to a number of factors.

They included planned investment in new technology and becoming involved in new tenders.

The company's chairman David McGibbon said: "This has been another hugely successful year for David MacBrayne Ltd. It has been particularly satisfying for me personally to be at the helm during such transformational and exciting times for the company. We really are going from strength to strength.

"Among a year of highlights, winning the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract is the stand-out experience for me. The uncertainty that has surrounded the company since the tender process began has been unsettling for everyone connected to the CalMac family.

"But our bid was recognised as both compelling and innovative in meeting the needs of communities, customers, stakeholders, our partner agencies and the Scottish government, while offering best value to the taxpayer. In summary, we were simply the best company for the job."

The company made a loss of £4.6m for the year, up from £2.3m in the red over the previous 12 months.

'Huge endorsement'

It said this was driven by planned investment in new technology to improve customer service and business development activities, including the team to secure the successful CHFS tender.

It also supported the bid and transition costs to run Marchwood Military Port in Hampshire, as part of a new joint venture, Solent Gateway Ltd.

"Winning the Marchwood deal will provide a regular income stream for the company over the long term and is a great marker for the future expansion ambitions of the company," Mr McGibbon said.

"We were up against some of the biggest port and harbour operators in the UK and I'm delighted that we have secured what is a 35-year concession from the Ministry of Defence to support the army and to develop commercial opportunities at the port.

"It is huge endorsement of our harbour handling and logistics management expertise."

Total numbers employed by the company rose from 1,482 to 1,568 over the course of the year.

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