Passengers travelling on the Birkenhead-Belfast ro-pax service have been handed copies of a letter explaining Stena Line’s position while formal approval of the purchase of this route, and the Heysham-Belfast freight service, is awaited.

Updating events since Stena Line UK Ltd acquired DFDS Seaways Irish Sea Ferries Ltd (since renamed Stena Line Irish Sea Ferries Ltd) on 1 December last year, the letter is signed by Diane Poole, Passenger Services Director, Stena Line Irish Sea Ferry Services. It explains: ‘Although the acquisition of SL ISF by Stena Line has been completed and DFDS no longer owns SL ISF, we are awaiting formal approval from the UK and Irish competition authorities to integrate SL ISF into the wider Stena Line business.

‘Stena Line has given commitments to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that the SL ISF business will not be integrated into the rest of the Stena Line route network for as long as the competition review process is ongoing in the UK. This means that SL ISF will continue to operate and compete as an independent ferry company until approval has been granted by the competition authorities, as Stena Line should be viewed as a competitor of SL ISF until that time.

‘The OFT has permitted Stena Line to take steps towards integration of the two businesses, in order to ensure the continued good management and smooth operation of SL ISF. In this respect, SL ISF will transition to using the Stena Line brand. This means all vessels, signage, vehicles, uniforms, printing and stationery bearing a reference to DFDS will gradually be changed to show the Stena Line insignia. We would stress that SL ISF remains independent of Stena Line until approval has been granted by the competition authorities.’