New ferry to make maiden voyage on Irish Sea on Thursday
Overwhelming demand for freight access to Europe due to Brexit has prompted Stena Line to temporarily re-route its new ferry to run between Rosslare and Cherbourg instead of its original Belfast-Liverpool route.
The latest addition to its fleet, the Stena Embla, will make its maiden voyage on the Irish Sea via Rosslare on Thursday.
But market conditions due to the fallout from Brexit since January 1 has resulted in a 26pc decline in freight traffic from Belfast to Liverpool.
Consequently the drop in demand for freight access via Belfast promoted the ferry company to change tack, according to spokesman Simon Palmer.
"It just didn’t make sense,” he told the Irish Independent.
The first of the Embla's weekly sailings between Ireland and France will leave Rosslare port at 8:25pm on Thursday.
The ship, which can carry 210 freight vehicles, adds 20pc more freight capacity to the route. It also provides 60pc more cabins for freight drivers, he said.
Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea trade director said: “Given the short-term market distortion, we have decided to temporarily deploy our new Stena Embla vessel on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route.
"Clearly Brexit has created an increase in the demand for direct freight routes, and in particular driver accompanied freight, so the addition of Stena Embla, whilst temporary, plus the recently introduced Stena Foreteller to the route will provide a welcome addition for our customers at this time.
“Stena Line has always prided itself on being flexible when it comes to the efficient deployment of its fleet. Having very experienced onshore and onboard teams means that we are able to respond to market and customer demands rapidly.
"At present we are currently reviewing our Rosslare-Cherbourg operations and will keep engaging with our customers to identify the most appropriate Stena Line operation for the route.”
Glenn Carr, general manager of Rosslare Europort, said: “We warmly welcome Stena Embla to Rosslare for its maiden in-service voyage.
"We have been working closely with Stena Line to facilitate the unprecedented demand for capacity directly to and from the Continent, and the boost in capacity Stena Embla delivers has been mobilised swiftly through our close cooperation.
"On behalf of Irish industry and all of our customers and stakeholders, we thank Stena Line for their ongoing commitment to Rosslare Europort.”
The addition of the Embla, alongside the Stena Foreteller, will see Stena Line operate 12 crossings a week between Ireland and Continental Europe.