Reliability top priority for ferry operator DFDS as it looks to bid for Channel Islands tender

  • ITV Channel's Fred Dimbleby has been hearing from the company that wants to take over ferry services for the Channel Islands. Picture courtesy of DFDS

Ferry operator DFDS Seaways says reliability will be at the centre of any contract bid as it looks to run passenger and freight services for Jersey and Guernsey.

Filip Hermann, Vice President at DFDS Seaways, says: "It's clearly both urgent and frustrating to the islanders without that so I think whatever we design, we have to put that first.

"We just need to get that right. Then I'm sure there'll be other things popping up afterwards, where we could use all of the DFDS, like onboard services, our fantastic crew and all of these things. But first of all, we need to get reliability in place."

DFDS was named as Europe's leading ferry operator at the World Travel Awards, transporting 4.5 million passengers in 2023.

The company has held the first of two public meetings to discuss what islanders are looking for and has asked an Australian manufacturer to design a 72-meter hybrid electric ferry that could be used on its routes.

At the session in Jersey, frustrations with the current operator Condor were raised, such as delays, cancellations and schedule changes.

Holiday business owner Roger Le Maistre says: "We have lost a lot of customers. When the schedule came out in September we lost nearly 30% of our bookings for the self-catering for this year. It's quite massive."

Another attendee adds: "Let's hope they do put a tender in, if not just to make Condor more competitive."

But not everyone is convinced: "It is going to be the same just a different company, same issues, same problems, same engine problems, same engine problems, problems weather related, it will be the same just a different name."

Condor did not respond to ITV News's repeated requests for comment but it has previously said that it is confident it is "the right choice going forward" and will bid to renew its deal.

Condor's current contract for the Channel Islands is due to end in March 2025.

If there was any doubt left that Condor and Brittany Ferries had a competition on their hands, that has gone.

The tender has still not been published, but DFDS are already trying to build relationships with the public across the islands.

The operator hopes to show it can be trusted to take over these lifeline services.

The main demand from that public in a heated meeting last night was clear: reliability.

There was little interest in DFDS' onboard service or green credentials, rather a seemingly simple wish for the boats to run on time and on schedule.

The company is at the very start of this process and unable to give much detail on what their bid would look like, which will be when they are ultimately tested.

But it is clear from that meeting that DFDS is up for the fight.

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