Brittany Ferries axes plans to launch Portsmouth to Portugal route as firm eyes Spain reopening to tourism

PLANS for a Portsmouth to Portugal sea route run by Brittany Ferries have been dashed.

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 5:44 pm

It comes after the ferry firm was exploring the possibility of launching a service to Porto with talks about making Portsmouth or Plymouth the departure point.

The company already runs services to France and Spain from Portsmouth – but these have been temporarily shelved due to the travel restrictions.

But now its chief executive expects Spain to be put on the government’s green list in an early June review – paving the way for this route to resume. Portugal is already on the green list.

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MV Cap Finistère operated by Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth - Santander & Bilbao

Discussions with representatives in Porto have been ‘constructive’ this week, the company said, with senior staff from its technical, ports and strategy teams making a visit.

Announcing the decision, chief executive Christophe Mathieu said customers had urged him to explore the route and added he would ‘never say never’ in the future.

He said: ‘Technically, we could open a route to Porto, but the game changed rapidly on Friday with the announcement from Spanish authorities.

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Brittany Ferries considers running ferry service to Portugal from Portsmouth to ...

‘It simply wouldn’t make sense to open a new route – and displace passengers already booked on services to Spain – if our second biggest market is open for business.

‘We hope and expect Spain to be placed on the UK’s green list at the first review in early June and for that reason we took the decision to shelve the plan.’

He added: ‘We have been overwhelmed by messages of support from existing passengers, new customers and via social media urging us to sail to Porto.

‘So, while I am sure there will be disappointment, when it comes to Portugal we never say never.’

Spanish authorities announced the country would reopen for tourism on Monday.

British travellers would not need to take a PCR Covid-19 test when visiting, authorities added.

Vaccination rates in the European country have increased, while new cases have dropped to their August 2020 levels.

All of this has led to Brittany Ferries being confident it can rerun its existing routes to and from Spain.

Portsmouth port director Mike Sellers previously told The News the port was in a ‘great position’ to support the company if needed.

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