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New Channel Islands ship trialled amid ‘challenging’ time for Condor Ferries

The 163m ro-ro vessel Finlandia Seaways (2000/11,530gt) berthed in Jersey and then Guernsey on 16 December 2023 as part of ‘contingency plans’ to safeguard the supply chain.

Both Guernsey and Jersey governments commissioned the berthing trials of the DFDS ship Finlandia Seaways, which they say are designed to safeguard against ‘a number of possible risks of which supply links naturally form a key part’.

It comes after concerns about the commercial viability of the island’s existing freight links had been raised as Condor Ferries, the current operator, announced plans to increase freight charges by nearly 19 per cent from January 2024.

Condor Ferries took out a series of loans, including a revolving credit facility in August 2017, and these expired in September 2023 and needed refinancing.

During the intervening years costs across the board have risen , with the Bank of England base rate soaring from 0.5% to 5.25%.

As part of the company’s 2022 accounts, financial auditors from PwC warned the loans left Condor facing ‘a material uncertainty’ which ‘cast significant doubt about the group’s and the company’s ability to continue’ trading in the future.

‘Condor has been working with its stakeholders to overcome a temporary but challenging time,’ said chief executive John Napton.

‘We are confident that this is very near to being resolved and will have no impact on our services now or in the long term.’

Photo by Tony Rive

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