Brittany Ferries, which operates from Portsmouth, has faced a fraught 18-months as the pandemic saw passenger numbers plummet by 70 per cent and its turnover drop by £229m.
The firm had to suspend and alter several services from Portsmouth and its other destinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic across 2020.
But now the French-based operator has unveiled it has united with shipping and logistics company CMA CGM in a deal worth €25m – £21.31m.
The deal will see Brittany Ferry seeking to boost the amount of freight it transports across the Channel, while the company continues its drive to build up passenger numbers to pre-pandemic levels.
It’s hoped the new link will boost trade for both the firm and for Portsmouth.
A spokesman for the Brittany Ferries said: ‘The partnership will help to unlock synergies between the two companies in passenger and freight transport. By harnessing the respective areas of expertise of the CMA CGM Group and Brittany Ferries, it will also help promote the development of cross-Channel shipping and underpin France’s position in the sector.
‘The agreement establishes a commercial partnership between the CMA CGM Group and Brittany Ferries through the use of available cargo space on board Brittany Ferries’ services to the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula.’
As previously reported, Brittany Ferries has launched a five-year recovery plan.
It’s hoped passenger numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels next year.
The outlook has left the company’s president, Jean Marc Roue, confident that Brittany Ferries will ‘overcome the greatest challenge in its history’.
He said: ‘Last year, the Covid crisis brought our company to its knees.
‘It struck a blow for the regions we serve and enrich, and the French seafarers we are proud to employ. Despite this, we are determined to remain part of the fabric of life in the north west of France as well as in the UK, Ireland and Spain...With a collective will to return stronger, I believe Brittany Ferries will overcome the greatest challenge in its history.’
As part of the new deal with CMA CGM, Brittany Ferries hopes to continue with its plans to introduce more environmentally-friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships to its fleet.
Both companies will be looking at ways of sharing their LNG knowledge and resources in areas such as training for French crews and safety procedures.
Two new LNG-powered ships are due to join Brittany Ferries’ fleet next year and in 2023.