At the end of the second quarter, April - June 2010, leading ferry operator Stena Line has reported year-on-year increases of up to 14.5 per cent in the numbers of cars and passengers transported on its routes from Great Britain to Holland and Northern Ireland.
Stena Line’s North Sea route between Harwich and the Hook of Holland, on which the operator introduced the first of two 1,200-passenger Superferries on 16 May, saw a 2.1 per cent increase in the number of cars and a 14.5 per cent increase in the number of passengers transported throughout the quarter. During the same three-month period Stena Line witnessed a 38 per cent increase in the number of coaches transported across the North Sea. According to the Civil Aviation Authority the number of passengers flying between British and Dutch airports over the same period dropped by 3 per cent year-on-year.
There was also growth in Stena Line’s traffic to Northern Ireland during the second quarter. Stena Line carried 12.4 per cent more cars between Fleetwood in Lancs. and Larne, Co. Antrim, and 7.1 per cent more between Stranraer in southwest Scotland and Belfast than during the second quarter of 2009.
This increase in traffic follows a strong first quarter, leading figures for the first six months of 2010 to show a 8.2 per cent increase in passengers to Holland and a level number of cars, compared to the first half of 2009. To Larne and Belfast Stena Line carried 10 and 6 per cent more cars respectively than during the same period the previous year.
Dermot Cairns, Stena Line’s general manager for travel on the Irish Sea, said “Stena Line is delighted with the increase in passengers and cars we’ve witnessed on our crossings to the Netherlands and Northern Ireland during the first six month and in particular the second quarter of 2010”.
Dermot continues, “We feel that they show British travellers to be voting with their feet and choosing our ferry routes as a comfortable and convenient way to get to Holland and to Northern Ireland. Some of the boost is attributable to the ash cloud and the extra passengers we carried at that time, many of whom also rediscovered ferry travel for future trips, but it is certainly not the case that the growth is purely ash-related. In June, after the volcanic plume issues had subsided, we carried 14 per cent more passengers and almost 5 per cent more cars across the North Sea than during the same month last year. On our routes to Belfast and Larne we carried 4.4 per cent and 13 per cent more cars respectively than in June 2009.
“We’re particularly pleased to be experiencing growth on these routes at a time when we have been investing so heavily in them. The two North Sea Superferries we’ve built for the route from Harwich represented our largest ever investment at over £375m, whilst we’ve also given the Belfast-bound Stena Caledonia a £1 million refit and are investing £75m in a new port in southwest Scotland which should be ready for November 2011.”