Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) confirms that Stena will not resume its ferry service on the Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, 4th February

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) confirms that Stena will not resume its ferry service on the Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) has today confirmed that a Stena seasonal service from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead will not be resuming.

According to Gerry Dunne, CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company: “While it is disappointing that a service will not be resuming for this forthcoming summer season, the Harbour Company is now seeking alternative providers to operate a seasonal service on the route.

“A call for Expressions of Interest in operating a seasonal service has been issued on eTenders by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, and it is our hope that a replacement passenger service will be in place for 2016.  In recent months, the Harbour Company has received a number of informal approaches to operate the route, and we hope that these inquiries can now be advanced through a competitive tendering process.”

The Prior Information Notice is available here.

The importance of the passenger service business to Dun Laoghaire has declined in the past decade, and in particular over the past five years, where the service has been reduced to a seasonal operation.  By 2014, passenger numbers had declined to 141,652 compared with 1,719,853 passengers in 1998.

Up until recent days, DLHC and Stena have engaged in active discussions on the delivery of a seasonal service.  However, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company understands that Stena was unable to secure a suitable vessel and have now decided not to resume operations on this route.

The Harbour Company has enjoyed a positive working relationship with Stena. In the event that Stena identifies a suitable vessel to meet passenger needs on the route, the Harbour Company would be receptive to any future approach from Stena.

Despite today’s announcement by Stena, job losses in DLHC are not envisaged in the harbour, due to the emergence of new commercial activities including the growing cruise business and the proposed Urban Beach.

It is estimated that Dun Laoghaire will attract 100, 000 cruise passengers and crew in 2015, with similar numbers expected for 2016 and 2017. A planning application under the Strategic Infrastructure Development Act for a new cruise berth for ‘next generation’ cruise ships will be submitted in the coming weeks to An Bord Pleanála.

The growing cruise business will have significant economic spin-off value for Dun Laoghaire and the wider hinterland. It is estimated that the spend of ferry passengers in the greater Dun Laoghaire area was approximately €800k in 2014.  By contrast, it is expected that cruise passengers arriving into Dun Laoghaire this year will spend approximately €7m. This will more than make up for any loss of revenue to the local businesses from ferry passengers.

Meanwhile, the important development projects in our Masterplan continue to be progressed.

A detailed proposal has been submitted to the Government in respect of the International Diaspora Centre, and a decision is awaited.  This world-class visitor attraction can now be accommodated in the Ferry Terminal building, providing a great opportunity to create a new, immediate, and cost-effective use of this 80,000 sq. ft. building.

Gerry Dunne commented: “It makes enormous commercial sense to locate the International Diaspora Centre in the Ferry Terminal Building.  Due to Stena’s decision, this building is available immediately”.

Planning permission for our Urban Beach has been granted by the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, and is now subject to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

In the meantime, initial planning for the Residential Development on St Michael’s Pier is underway.  The Harbour Company is determined to have these projects up and running at the earliest possible time. The National Ports Policy, published in 2013 by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in 2013 said that the long term future of the harbour would be ‘in terms of marine leisure, maritime tourism, cultural amenity and urban redevelopment’.  In light of the Stena decision, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company looks forward to redoubling our efforts with our stakeholders – the local business community, the Minister for Transport and Tourism, and the local County Council – to ensure that the potential of our world-class harbour is fully reached as set out in our Masterplan.

ENDS.

CONTACT:  Catherine Heaney / Emily Brennan, DHR Communications @ 087-2309835 / 086-1658629 / 01-4200580.