Brittany Ferries has announced three new weekly freight-only sailings between Ireland and France, aimed at hauliers seeking to bypass the UK 'due to increased customs checks and paperwork'.
The sailings will begin on Thursday (4 February) with a sailing between Rosslare and St Malo, while the first of two new sailings out of Cork to Roscoff will begin on Saturday.
Brittany Ferries' Cotentin freight ferry
Brittany Ferries said these are in addition to its current sailings out of Cork and Rosslare to both France and Spain and are in response to demands from both Irish and French hauliers seeking a more direct route. An extra weekly Rosslare to Cherbourg round trip was introduced last month.
The firm said that most lorries travelling between Ireland and France normally transit via the UK and the Irish Sea, but since new post-Brexit trade rules were introduced on 1 January ‘increasing numbers of Irish and continental hauliers have been deterred from using this landbridge due to increased customs checks and paperwork.
Although a number of channel ports are used for these journeys, Britanny Ferries told Transport Network that the biggest impact on its services had been on its Caen to Portsmouth route, with a significant drop in the number of trucks being sent to for phytosanitary checks in Caen.
Hugh Bruton, general manager, Brittany Ferries Ireland, said: ‘It’s clear that Brexit has distorted flows of trade between France and Ireland, there’s now clear and compelling demand both in Brittany and beyond to boost freight capacity direct from the region to Ireland.
'And Irish traders too are seeking direct links to Western France. We’re always listening to our haulier customers in order to best meet their needs and we look forward to restarting Brittany-Ireland services two months earlier than planned.'
Conor Mowlds, chief commercial officer for the Port of Cork, said: 'The decision by Brittany Ferries to operate two freight only services from Cork to St Malo and Roscoff is hugely positive for Cork. Importers and exporters now have further transport options to get their freight direct to the EU and bypass the UK landbridge. We wish them every success with this freight service.'