Condor Ferries Channel Islands agreement will be extended

Condor Rapide
Image caption Condor Ferries has operated services to and from the islands for 40 years

The Channel Islands only ferry service to the UK will have its operating licence extended by five years.

Condor Ferries' permit to provide car and passenger ferry services between the islands and Weymouth and Poole is due to end in December next year.

After discussions with Guernsey and Jersey's transport authority, their services will continue until 2018.

The new permit is not exclusive, but any other operators would be expected to meet the same standards of service.

The licence includes the implementation of the European Union Sea Passenger Rights Regulation on 18 December 2012, which means passengers will have a statutory right to compensation and refunds when vessels are delayed for technical or service reasons.

Condor said this would be applicable on inter-island and journeys to or from the EU, but would not operate when bad weather forced the cancellation of services.

Under the agreement a formal review of the service would also be completed within three years.

'Limited commercial life'

Senator Alan Maclean, Economic Development Minister, said both island's governments would like to put in place longer term arrangements, but could not due to "uncertainty".

He said new international regulation on sulphur emissions due to come into effect in 2015 would require extensive engine modifications to traditional ships.

Senator Maclean said due to the age of the company's high speed fleet, 15 years or older, they had a "limited commercial life left".

Deputy Paul Luxon, Guernsey's External Transport Group Chairman, said it meant there would be "medium term certainty both for the islands and the company".

He said: "Our governments will continue to develop a coordinated and effective approach to sea transport that will lead to a fully integrated long term strategy.

"[We] will work with Condor during this period to ensure that the services provided meet the islands' needs."

Ken Soar, group director of Condor Ferries said his company had served the islands for 40 years and was committed to working on future planning for sea links between the islands, the UK and France.

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