As I expected, the former Stena Nordica, ex European Ambassador, now on Dover-Calais service for DFDS Seaways, looks good in her new livery, maybe not quite as attractive as Stena but stylish.
Her new name of Malo Seaways is a surprise given that her route is not expected to include St Malo, long the province of Brittany and Condor ferries, but it is an intriguing and memorable name. I wonder how long she will stay on this route. Maybe it will partly depend on the next company to be mentioned: MyFerryLink.
I note that MyFerryLink, which according to the UK Competition Authorities edict is supposed either to be sold as an entity by early July or cease to trade out of Dover, is advertising its services strongly in what theoretically should be its fi nal weeks. It is working too, the admittedly large losses since they commenced having been halved according to recent announcements.
There has been serious, but still confidential interest from four parties to buy the operation. I am not surprised as they are three excellent ships for the route, which bear a now recognisable brand, and there are those valuable slots at Dover and Calais. Business on the core Channel route is healthy and indeed there are indications that the loss of the three ships at the height of the season may bring chaos and queues for the remaining companies with HGVs backing up onto Dover and Calais link roads. I dare say the Competition authorities will argue it is up to the remaining companies being favoured in this argument, DFDS and P&O, to up their frequency and expand their fl eet. But that would mean fi nding suitable ferries at the height of the European traffic season.
Also, understandably, there are strains and complications between Euro-Tunnel the supposedly arms length holding company of the ships, MyFerryLink’s management, and the crew co-operative. Euro-tunnel want rid as soon as possible before the ships have to be laid up. Management and crew want their jobs and careers safeguarded. The crew’s co-operative want to bid to buy the brand and its ships themselves. The co-operative have a last minute appeal outcome pending in the UK against the forced sale.
Eurotunnel needs to sell the ferry company by July 9. By the time you read this the matter will be coming to its head. Will there be traffic chaos in Dover and Calais? Will there be industrial unrest at least at the French end? Or perhaps against the odds will there be an orderly demise. Will the company be sold, and against the views of the Competition Authorities, will a new company arise and three companies still remain operating? We should soon know.