Guernsey Press

Condor promises islanders a better deal in ‘new era’

Condor Ferries is promising passengers and companies a better deal as it announces ‘a new era’ in its 60th anniversary year serving the islands.

Condor’s interim chief executive and Brittany Ferries boss Christophe Mathieu said that the ferry operator’s minority shareholder will get far more involved in Condor’s day-to-day operations. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33096735)

As early as the next few weeks, passengers can expect more frequent and regular sailings, at more convenient times, and discounts on European routes operated by Brittany Ferries, which owns 29% of Condor.

Local companies relying on imports and exports should get more resilient freight services, backed up by the minority shareholder’s larger fleet, and a permanent return to more convenient sailing times.

The changes are part of a pledge by Brittany Ferries to take a much more active role in Condor’s day-to-day operations.

‘We have listened. We get the message. We are now taking a completely different view. It’s time for Brittany Ferries to get far more involved,’ said Condor’s interim chief executive Christophe Mathieu, who is also Brittany Ferries’ chief executive.

‘We need to be realistic. Not everything can happen overnight. But we are here and ready to get going, building up the long-term sea links between the island and with the UK and France.

‘My point today is to signal a new era which will not terminate in our lifetime. Brittany Ferries is here for ever.’

Mr Mathieu said Brittany Ferries was open to increasing its shareholding in Condor, if majority owner Columbia Threadneedle Investments, an American asset management firm, decided to sell.

Condor will write to customers soon with details of improvements planned for its schedules from May.

For passengers, they will include the return of daily sailings between Guernsey and St Malo, amendments to the Guernsey-Poole-Jersey route and, in turn, more inter-island sailings.

The freight ship Goodwill is expected to return to full operation, six days a week.

‘It’s a bit uncomfortable to change the schedule now. But we believe it is of such importance that we want to do it now. We want to send a signal. We hope it will be welcomed as a sign that we are listening,’ said Mr Mathieu.

He admitted that relations between Condor and the island had become frayed in recent years, as a result of less frequent and more irregular services and some errors in the deployment of vessels on certain routes.