Guernsey Press

Little Ferry Company quits, but Alderney will be served

THE Spike Islander is being sold, and the Little Ferry Company is pulling out of the Alderney ferry market as a new operator is lined up for the Guernsey-Alderney route by the island's States.

The Little Ferry Company’s Spike Islander is for sale. (30596463)

The business confirmed yesterday that it was ceasing its Guernsey service.

The States of Alderney’s tender process for a seasonal ferry service for 2022 has been concluded, but not announced.

‘An operator has been selected as a result of a competitive tender process undertaken by the Economic Development Committee,' it said.

‘When the contract has been agreed by both parties, the States of Alderney, in conjunction with the successful operator, will make an official announcement.’

The Little Ferry Company has operated the inter-island service in the summer months since 2018, with a subsidy from the States of Alderney.

‘We believe that we clearly established that the demand is greater than the capacity that we could provide under the current regulations with the Spike Islander,’ a company spokesman said.

‘The States of Alderney invited tenders for the 2022 service, we understand that there was interest from several professional providers, so we decided that this was an opportunity for the Little Ferry to withdraw from the service and allow another operator to carry on with what we believe is a vital service to the islands.’

The spokesman said the partners involved had taken a significant risk to prove the concept of the service with the support of the States of Alderney.

‘Initially we wanted to prove that there was a demand for a regular and professionally-operated ferry service between the islands using a high quality, safe, comfortable and passenger-friendly boat,’ they said.

‘We did not announce our withdrawing the service before as we did not want to compromise the tender process.

‘We will continue to look at ways to provide a service in the future with the greater capacity which we believe is needed by the islands.’

They wished the new operators every success for the coming year.

‘We would like to thank all our customers and the States of Alderney for their support over the past years and most importantly thank the crew, staff and partners for their tremendous efforts and the great service they provided – this truly was a family effort from all involved,’ the spokesman added.

‘Although at times it has been challenging it has been a pleasure to have operated our Little Ferry.’

The news was unexpected.

In October 2021 the company had said it was looking to get a larger vessel to operate the route this summer, as the Spike Islander only had 12 seats.

There have been several businesses involved with or shown an interest in Alderney’s ferry routes.

The Blonde Hedgehog hotel launched its own boat – the eight-seater Ashlin – last year and plans to start offering inter-island sailings from this month.

No one from the business was available to comment yesterday.

Cost deters another company

BACHMANN HR Group has pulled out of the tender process for the Alderney to Guernsey ferry route due to the cost.

The company has also cited proposals from the States of Guernsey to buying another ferry as a concern.

‘I think all the islands will be poorly served this season,’ said chief executive Nick Saul.

With two companies confirming they had withdrawn from the tender – Bachmann and The Little Ferry Company – Mr Saul thought there would be problems with capacity within the operating ferry service.

‘The cost of running it would be between £750,000 and £1m. and we didn’t think the States of Alderney would be willing to pay that sort of amount,’ he said.

‘The States of Guernsey announced they were buying a ferry and our board decided the risk was too big because of that.’

He said Bachmann had withdrawn in late January.