Fastnet line loses fight for survival


The Cork to Swansea ferry service, the only direct passenger and freight link from the south of Ireland to Wales, is to be discontinued with the loss of 78 jobs.

The service, which is operated by the Fastnet Line [a subsidiary of the West Cork Tourism Co-operative society], had been in examinership since November.

However, in a statement today, the company’s owners said the ferry service had been unable to raise adequate funds to continue operating the route, and that the examinership had “failed”.

The company is now likely to be placed in receivership or liquidation by the courts later today with the direct loss of 78 jobs.

The end of the service, which was based at Ferry Terminal, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, comes just 20 months after the service was launched when the MV Julia made its maiden voyage from Swansea to Cork.

The loss of the ferry service, worth an estimated €30 million in annual direct tourist spending, is major blow to the Munster region.

Chairman of the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Noel Murphy said: "Despite heroic efforts by staff and supporters of the ferry service in both Ireland and Wales, we are very disappointed to announce that we could not to save this vital piece of tourism and transport infrastructure."

"The Swansea-Cork Cruise Ferry provides the only direct passenger and freight link between the south west region of Ireland and the south Wales region in the UK and in doing so is a key generator of business, direct tourism and tourism related revenues for both regions."

With no ferry sailings taking place in 2012, a minimum of 25,000 British tourists or 1 per cent of the overall tourist numbers will now not travel to Ireland, Mr Murphy said.

Since the launch of service in March 2010, the MV Julia has carried over 153,000 passengers and based on current tourist spends, the Cork, Kerry and the surrounding areas economy had benefited by over €55 million during the period.

The community-based co-operative, consisting of 450 investors and enterprises in both Wales and Ireland, had presented an investment proposal to the court-appointed examiner last month which included further funding from the three local authorities in Cork and Kerry.

For the period of examinership the company had required €300,000 and roughly half of which was to come from the local authorities.

“Unfortunately, these funds and the funds pledged by local council's in Cork and Kerry were insufficient to meet the required figure to achieve the proposed scheme or arrangement. Our efforts fell at the final hurdle,” Mr Murphy said.

South Wales and Swansea will see tens of thousands less tourists arriving from Ireland as a result of the loss of the service, he said.