Trident manager and director Peter Wilcox said Herm Island had decided to go off in its own direction and had become 'commercially aggressive', prompting the family-owned business to stop sailings between 1 November and 31 March 2022.
But Herm Island CEO Craig Senior refuted the claims, saying that he had been trying to meet with Mr Wilcox repeatedly over the last few months, but he had refused.
‘We have reached out to Trident,’ he said.
‘We are happy to meet with them, but they have declined.’
Last night he said he had not received confirmation the ferry would not be sailing this winter, until he was contacted by the Guernsey Press. He said he was relieved Herm Island had invested £750,000 in a 70-seat catamaran in the spring, which is currently undergoing final trials.
The Isle of Herm, whose crew are employed directly by the island, will operate year-round, meaning the island no longer needs to pay for services provided by a ferry company.
Mr Senior said island management was looking forward to very busy Christmas season, with bookings lined up.
‘It’s a shame Trident aren’t operating,’ he said.
‘They would have done well.’
Mr Senior said they had asked the States to arbitrate between the businesses, but Trident had refused.
Mr Wilcox said he could not work with Herm, as he found the island management team dictatorial
‘Wanting to control us as well as their own island. It’s made life very difficult,’ he said, adding that the relationships between Travel Trident and the island’s management had been very harmonious from the early days of their latest contract, until last March.
‘We’ve always had a nominal contract fee to help us during the bleak winter months of November, January and February,’ he said.
‘When we’re rattling around with very few people on board and without that, we just couldn’t make the books balance.’
December has traditionally been a better month for the company, with pre-Christmas trips to the island proving popular. However, Mr Wilcox said these would not take place this winter.
‘There’ll be no Christmas trips this year,’ he said.
‘It’s with a heavy heart but we’ll be getting straight into the maintenance from November.’
He said there had been no word from Herm about the seasonal services.
‘There hasn’t been a falling out or anything, but there’s been no communication.
‘They just haven’t seemed geared up for it.’
Mr Senior said that Herm Island had funded the Trident Christmas shopping trips in the past. He added that the island would need to discuss what to do next, but confirmed the Isle of Herm would be able to get guests to the island over the winter. He criticised Mr Wilcox’s move.
‘Historically the cream from the summer would subsidise the winter,’ he said.
Mr Wilcox confirmed that the company would resume in April and perhaps earlier, if there were good weather forecasts in March, offering the prospect of larger numbers of passengers. He said the company did not require permission from the island to operate the service.
He described the relationship as ‘okayish at the moment’, and he hoped there would be no future problems with operating in and out of the island’s harbour.