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Could Brittany Ferries ships be used this winter?

Brittany Ferries ships could be used to serve the Channel Islands this winter.

The 157 metre long Barfleur was tested in Jersey and Guernsey's harbours this spring.

We've been told that more port trials are possible, although only a small number of the BF fleet will fit.

Condor CEO Christophe Mathieu, who is also the boss of BF, which part-owns Condor, says he's studying what could be used, and 'building bridges' between the two companies.

"The whole discussion now, and again it is a completely open discussion is, if we want to give more flexibility and schedule some Brittany Ferries ship to the islands we need maybe to organise to have tugs available and this kind of thing.  It's a discussion, because we need to - within a few weeks - open the winter schedule for next winter because we still have the contract to run the service until March 2025."

The Government of Jersey and the States of Guernsey have opened the formal tender process to operate ferry services for the islands beyond next spring, when the current agreement with Condor expires.

Firms have until 8 July to make their submissions.

Mr Mathieu says the service level being sought by the islands' governments is 'very similar to what we are currently offering'.

"We are committed to really serve the local community, but because we are a local operator, we have no where to hide. 

It is a very important topic for us in Brittany Ferries.  We have invested in Condor and we now want to take it all the way, win the contract and demonstrate to everybody that we are the obvious solution."

He's told us he will remain in charge throughout.

"I am going to stay and I am going to assume this responsibility until further notice."

He also emphasised that the bridging of the two companies - Condor Ferries and Brittany Ferries - is 'a permanent thing'.

Mr Mathieu says bookings for this summer have improved since the firm made late changes to the schedules.

Some passengers complained when existing bookings were altered when the firm adjusted some sailing times in April.

But Mr Mathieu says it has had a good outcome on forward demand:

"It is very difficult to know what would have happened if we didn't change.  But, over the last few weeks we are content with the bookings coming in, so I guess we can say we have improved because before it wasn't that great.  Overall, it is good."

He says bookings have been 'quite strong' and he hopes for 'a very good season'.

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