Today, Tuesday November 1st 2011, the Fastnet Line Group of companies has been placed into lnterim Examinership at a sitting of the High Court. Michael Mc Ateer of Grant Thornton has been appointed interim examiner. The Fastnet Line companies are owned by the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited, which was formed in April 2009 and has over 400 members that have individually invested funds into the venture.
The Cork to Swansea Ferry will discontinue its full, published service with immediate effect. All booked passengers will be contacted in the coming days, with full refunds being issued. Fastnet Line apologises for any inconvenience that the short notice of the withdrawal of the service may cause. The re-structured viable business plan that has been presented as part of the examinership process, forecasts that the service will re commence on Friday April 6th 2012 and sail until Saturday September 29th 2012. It is envisaged under the new schedule, that the service with not operate during the months October to March inclusive in the future.
Over the past four months, the Board of Fastnet Line supported by an external management consultant have restructured the management team with the principle focus to improve and stabilise the financial status of the company. Radical changes have been implemented including the ships flag being reduced from 1,504 passenger to 950 passengers which is in line with the capacities of the Julia as a night sailing Cruise Ferry. The service has been severely hampered by the continuing increase to world oil prices with fuel as a cost centre increasing by 27% from 2010 to 2011 and almost 50% from the original budget of 2009. A single voyage currently cost €18,560 in fuel costs alone.
The successful reinstatement of the Cruise Ferry service between Cork and Swansea was the key to the regeneration of the lost revenue into both economies whilst the service was not running. The Welsh Assembly reported that the Swansea area lost an estimated £25M per annum in Tourism related income and the Irish Government reported similar losses in the South West of the Ireland. The Cruise Ferry services are also helping to address the reduction in Carbon emissions. In Wales alone the reduction in Freight miles is in the region of 500,000 miles since the start of the service. To-date the service has carried over 150,000 customers, 75% of which originated from UK postal addresses which are of particular benefit to the Irish Tourism sector generating, on average, €350 per person (€40million approx) exclusive of fare and on-board spend.
Since the reintroduction of the service in March 2010, the operation company has purchased €7.5 million and £5.7 million of goods and services from Irish and UK suppliers. While original staffing levels were higher, the business currently employs 7 full time shore employees based in Cork and on average 53 full time contracted staff on board the Julia at any given time.
The Board(‘s) of Fastnet line and the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society are committed to the long term future of the service which is a key generator of tourism and tourism related revenues for both the South West of Ireland and the Southern Welsh region of the UK. The service remains the only direct passenger and freight link between these specific regions.
The Board members lead by the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Chairman Noel Murphy and Chairman elect of Fastnet Line John Williams, would like to thank all car, foot and freight customers for their continuous support since the service was re-introduced and reinstate our commitment to welcoming you back on board from Easter 2012. The board would also like to thank and acknowledge our many great partners in supply on both sides of the Irish Sea and look forward to working with them individually during the examinership process and beyond. Finally, we acknowledge and express our sincere thanks to the hard working and dedicated staff of Fastnet Line to whom we commit to finding a viable solution for the continuous running of the service and their long term employment