Brittany Ferries chief executive Christophe Mathieu said some people who had booked trips to France with Irish Ferries had rebooked with his company for the Cork-Roscoff route, but space is now nearly at a premium.
Around 19,000 people have had their summer sailings to France cancelled due to a delay in the delivery of a new ferry to Irish Ferries.
Mr Mathieu made the comments yesterday at a special reception in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, which marked 40 years since Brittany Ferries opened its Cork-Roscoff service.
“Brittany Ferries was only five years old when we launched services linking Roscoff and Cork back in 1978. In our first year of operations we carried just under 22,000 passengers on the MV Armorique,” said Mr Mathieu.
“But the service really took off when we launched Bretagne, our first super ferry in 1989. Today we carry around 85,000 passengers, who enjoy the very best in the Brittany Ferries fleet, our flagship Pont-Aven.”
Mr Mathieu pointed out the company’s shareholders still represent the same collective of French farmers who launched the business.
He said he expects freight to increase on the Cork-Brittany route because of the uncertainty of whether there will be a hard border with the North post-Brexit.
He said the main driving force behind the creation of the new Cork-Santander, Spain route was Brexit.
“Brittany Ferries Connemara made her first sailing on 9-10 May, opening a sea route between southern Ireland and Spain for the first time in history.
Thousands of holidaymakers are working to rebook their trips to France after Irish Ferries was forced to cancel all summer sailings on its new vessel, the WB Yeats. Customers say they've been forced to completely change their holiday plans. pic.twitter.com/71CU8FcSrB— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 13, 2018
“The first month of operation has shown encouraging signs and I am sure that more freight companies in particular will turn to us as the uncertainty and political turmoil of Brexit rumbles on,” said Mr Mathieu.
A number of dignitaries from the Santander region came to Cork yesterday to attend the event.
Port of Cork chairman John Mullins said Brittany Ferries had shown true dedication in providing a reliable and attractive ferry service for both passengers and freight.
He said the new Ro-Pax ferry service to Santander has brought an increase in Spanish tourism to Cork and provides a very useful connection for exporting freight from Ireland to mainland Europe.