French operator Brittany Ferries will transfer its Cork-Santander line to Rosslare and Bilbao in a bid to boost freight traffic on the route.
The company, which launched the Cork-Santander line in 2018, with the aim of developing its freight volumes between Ireland and Spain, said, after two years of operation, passenger results had been encouraging but freight results had been below expectation.
Creation of the new route between Rosslare and Bilbao was decided on the basis of market studies and in response to demand from Irish and continental European hauliers.
The Port of Rosslare offered more space for freight and better road access, notably for traffic from Dublin and the east coast of Ireland.
Bilbao, meanwhile, is already an active freight hub, which is closer than Santander to major industrial centres in northern Spain and southern France. It also offers a more secure reception capacity for unaccompanied trailers.
The new twice-weekly service from Rosslare will start on 28 February and will be accompanied by the launch of a new weekly service between the company's home port of Roscoff in Brittany and Rosslare. This latter service will get under way on 24 March and will operate alongside the existing Roscoff-Cork service.
"This was not a decision we took lightly," said Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu, "and follows extensive consultation with out freight customers who sought better road connections and reduced driving distances."
Rosslare Europort general manager Glenn Carr said, "Brittany Ferries will benefit from our €25 US$27.6 million investment in port facilities, infrastructure and technology as part of the port's strategic plan."
Brittany Ferries told Container News that its lines between Britain and Spain would not be affected by the change to its Ireland-Spain service. The French company currently operates services from Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao and from Plymouth to Santander.