Lots of publicity in the papers for the Explorers final weeks:http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0830/breaking53.html
A major ferry operator is pulling its fast service between Ireland and Britain next month.
Stena Line said its HSS craft will be suspended on the Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route from September 13th until later next year.
Michael McGrath, area director for Stena Line’s Irish Sea services, blamed the cutbacks on the high cost of operating the two-hour sailing.
“The fast craft service operating between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead has traded at a financial loss for several years,” he said.
“The high operating costs of the HSS Stena Explorer, particularly in terms of fuel costs and gas turbine maintenance, has been a major factor in this and despite all our attempts to reduce operating costs over the last few years, it has not been possible to return the route to profitability.”
Stena said the high-speed HSS craft will now operate as a seasonal service only.
The operator will continue to run two traditional ferries year-round between Dublin Port and Holyhead.
“The vast majority of revenue from the fast craft service is generated from car and coach guests and is received during the peak summer trading period,” said Mr McGrath.
Last year, almost three quarters of Stena’s business on the HSS Irish Sea service was between May and September, the company said.
Unlike the other services, there was very little year-round freight business on the high-speed route, Stena added.
“We regret that this decision will have an impact amongst our ship’s personnel and our port operations staff in Dun Laoghaire but this is a decision that has to be taken,” said Mr McGrath.
The HSS Stena Explorer currently operates one sailing a day.
Stena said 88 staff working on the high-speed route will be affected.
These include 24 involved in Dun Laoghaire travel centre and ship handling as well as general operatives and clerical staff.
Another 55 crew working on board will be impacted.
The company begins a 30-day consultation period with trade unions Siptu, RMT and Nautilus tomorrow.
A Stena spokesman said workers would be offered voluntary redundancy or redeployment within the company, but declined to say how many lay-offs were expected.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0831/1224303237213.html
Ferry firm to end winter crossings from Dún Laoghaire
THE OPERATOR of the ferry route between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead is ceasing the once-daily winter service, it was confirmed yesterday.
Stena Line said the move was a result of rising costs associated with the high-speed ship (HSS) fast ferry, particularly increased fuel costs, along with competition from low cost airlines.
Some 24 staff based at Dún Laoghaire are to be affected by the reduction to a seasonal service, along with a further 53 crew based in the UK.
The company, which employs more than 1,800 people in Ireland, said about 26 staff will continue to work all year round at Dún Laoghaire, while the crew may be redeployed.
The summer schedule is set to end on September 12th, when the change will be brought in, and it will resume next April or May.
The company is to discuss the situation with workers’ unions. A spokesman said redeployment and redundancy terms will be offered. Stena will continue to operate two services daily from Holyhead to Dublin Port, as well as services between Rosslare and Pembroke, and Belfast and Stranraer.
Business interests in Dún Laoghaire expressed disappointment at the news, while Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber said the retention of the harbour as a port was very important to the region. Chamber chief executive Hal Ledford said the cessation of winter services was not entirely unexpected, but was regrettable.
Local Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor said she was “extremely sorry” for the staff involved. “This was an operational decision for the company which has the potential to adversely affect the local economy in and around the Dún Laoghaire area,” she said, adding the decision “will be widely viewed as an unwelcome one”.
Stena, which has seen declining winter traffic for a number of years, is understood to have been effectively paying 12-month costs on five to six months of income.
HSS Stena Explorer , introduced in 1995, offers travel at 40 knots, completing the journey in just 99 minutes with a capacity of 1,500 passengers and 350 cars.
HSS ships have a heavy fuel consumption, however, and Stena has already sold, or offered for sale, a number of the HSS Explorer ’s sister ships across Europe.
Last year HSS Explorer was replaced during winter months by the smaller Stena Lynx II . From January to April the service was temporarily suspended.
Stena has recently signed a new agreement with Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to operate the service in the summer months for the next two years. It is understood there is an option on a further two years.
A regular ferry service has sailed between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead for more than 150 years.
Image below from http://www.drimnagh-road.com/020411hssexplorer.htm
Lots more images available here alsohttp://www.flickr.com/photos/scottmackey/sets/72157623466755204/