Guernsey Press

Condor services guaranteed only for two more years

CONDOR Ferries’ services to the Channel Islands are guaranteed only for the next two summers – despite Guernsey taxpayers’ money being used to help fund the purchase of the company’s newest vessel.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31914373)

Services to the islands are based on a 10-year agreement between Condor and Jersey, which has now entered a wind-down phase and expires in March 2025.

Talks are under way about services beyond that date. But there is still uncertainty about when – or even whether – the deal with Condor will be extended.

Guernsey’s Economic Development president was tight-lipped about ferry services after March 2025.

‘We are in regular dialogue with Jersey, but I won’t comment on the nature of any negotiations with third parties,’ said Neil Inder, just days after it was announced that Condor and a fund in which the States has invested £20m. had jointly purchased a conventional roll-on, roll-off ferry.

Jersey’s Economic Development minister, Kirsten Morel, said they were evaluating options for future sea connectivity.

‘While cognisant of timescales, our focus is very much on securing the best outcome against our priorities and so we won’t be drawn on specific dates for concluding negotiations.’

It is unclear whether the new ferry purchase will help persuade Jersey to sign a new long-term agreement with Condor.

‘There are many factors that influence fleet decisions – for example, emissions standards, port operating restrictions and alternative propulsion methods,’ said Deputy Morel.

‘It would be premature to speculate on the make-up of a future fleet, although we do recognise that investment will be necessary to meet our priorities.

‘The governments of Guernsey and Jersey are in increasingly regular dialogue over a broad range of topics. Sea connectivity is one such topic and we hold a shared view on the need to secure high quality, resilient and competitive sea connectivity for the future.’

Senior members of the States of Guernsey said last year that they expected improvements in Condor’s services to and from the island in 2023.

Deputy Inder said he was confident that objective would be fulfilled this summer.

‘We’re pleased to see that the new schedule includes increased capacity during peak times and more day trips, which we hope encourage even more travel for both islanders and visitors as we continue to build on the sector’s post-pandemic recovery,’ he said.

Deputy Inder revealed that progress was being made on the development of a law which would allow Guernsey to have legal operating agreements with ferry operators rather than having to rely on an extension of Jersey’s agreements.

‘We are taking forward this work and have consulted on the legislation, but its progress will be aligned with discussions on a formal agreement,’ he said.

But he declined to answer a question about whether the law would be in place before the current agreement with Condor ends.

Condor said it remained committed to serving the islands and confirmed it was part of talks to extend the agreement.

‘Discussions have been taking place for some time and remain ongoing,’ said chief executive John Napton.

‘The purchase of the additional vessel highlights Condor’s positive commitment to the islands and future connectivity.’