Condor CEO: Sea passenger numbers fall linked to ferry issues

Cars going on to ferry
Image caption Ferry passengers have fallen by around a fifth in both islands, according to the latest figures

Ferry problems have caused sea passenger numbers in the Channel Islands to fall, the CEO of Condor Ferries has said.

Compared to 2015 there have been 22% fewer people travelling to and from Guernsey by sea so far this year.

The number of people arriving in Jersey by boat has gone down by 20.4% in the first four months of 2016.

Ferry boss Paul Luxon linked the repeated disruption to Condor sailings to the falling numbers.

The ferry operator's high-speed vessel, Liberation, has been beset with problems since it was launched in March 2015.

Image caption Paul Luxon, CEO of Condor Ferries, said there was "no doubt" disruption on the Poole-Channel Islands route had had an impact on passenger numbers

The biggest drop in sea passengers has been on the Poole-Channel Islands Liberation route.

In September 2015 there were angry protests from passengers at the UK harbour because of disruption.

Mr Luxon said: "Last year's disruption on Liberation on the Poole route clearly wasn't good news, and there's no doubt we're suffering some fallback from that from last year."

Luke Wheadon from Guernsey's Chamber of Commerce said the drop in numbers was "very concerning".

Image caption The Liberation has experienced a litany of problems since its launch in March 2015

Condor Liberation

27 March 2015 - First sailing from Poole after three months of sea trials

28 March - Suffered minor damage to protective belting while mooring in bad weather in St Peter Port

5 April - Returned to service after delays to repairs caused by poor weather

8 April - Sailings from Guernsey to Jersey cancelled because of a recurring electrical fault in an engine

11 April - Problems with a ramp for loading vehicles delayed a crossing from Poole by 40 minutes

9 May - Services on Liberation Day, after which the vessel was named, were cancelled due to problems with one of its two bow-thrusters

18 September - Problems with the exhaust system led to cancellations and delays

31 December - Vessel damaged while moored in Poole Harbour, out of service until February 2016

16 March 2016 - Liberation detained over safety fears

20 May 2016 - Liberation develops an engine fault - vessel operates at half speed

8 June 2016 - Liberation has a technical fault - ferry operates to a revised schedule

14 June 2016 - Condor's high speed ferry service is cancelled because of a fuel pump problem

Image caption Air travel has remained stable in Guernsey while Jersey has seen some growth

David Edwards, head of research and insight at Visit Jersey, said: "Clearly there have been a number of challenges for Condor."

He said inclement weather and industrial action in France were among a "whole raft of factors" also to blame.

But Mr Edwards said the decline in cross-channel ferry passenger numbers appeared to be a long-term trend with travellers "more likely to fly or use the Channel Tunnel".

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