Company CEO John Napton said if all went well the new ferry could be in operation this year, but there was still a way to go, and the company remained in discussions with the States.
‘We’re still talking and we’ve been talking for some time,’ he said. ‘We haven’t set up a joint venture yet and we are hopefully going to do that in the very near future.’
This joint venture will look to purchase the ship and lease it to Condor to operate.
Mr Napton said the vessel would be along the lines of the Commodore Clipper, capable of carrying vehicles and passengers.
‘We’re looking for a second ro-pax, which we would’ve done independently had it not been for Covid.’
The company had two ‘target’ vessels, he said.
‘Obviously we want to keep that as close to our chest as possible because we are going to be negotiating, but it will be along that line – with the very simple concept of providing overnight passage north and south between the UK with the cabins, which gives resilience all year round.’
There was surprise from Jersey’s government when it heard of the plans for Guernsey to buy its own ship, and Mr Napton said he regretted that situation.
‘I’m really apologetic to Jersey. I wanted to talk to them but I was under an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] and we had to deal with these things professionally.’
He said the important thing was to get people travelling again, both to and from the island, and passenger numbers had picked up last year following the end of the second lockdown in March 2021.
‘The benchmark for me really was when we re-opened both islands in full in the middle of July last year,’ Mr Napton said.
More passenger vehicles travelled on the northern route in August and September 2021 than the company had seen since 2015.
‘That hopefully underpins where the direction of travel is for this year, putting that connectivity back into the UK and, hopefully, into France as well.’
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