Threat to Isle of Man sea passenger services.
31st October, 2010
Following the introduction of a daily lift on/lift off freight container service to the Island, the possibility of a reduction in passenger services offered by the IOM Steam Packet has been raised by their Chief Executive, Mark Woodward in his website blog.
Historically the Steam Packets' profitable freight service has been used to cross subsidise passenger services but with the removal of substantial amount of freight to the rival service operated by Mezeron who are owned by German parent, Peter Doehle, there is a strong likelihood that costs will have to be cut. Almost certainly this will see the cutting of the summer season only (and loss making) Irish services to Dublin and Belfast and probably the disposal of the fastcraft Snaefell.
The loss of Irish services will be a great disservice to the Island both for visitors and residents and will be yet another nail in the tourism coffin and is certainly not in the interest of the Isle of Man as an entity.
The container service has enticed both Shoprite and Tesco onboard and sadly the move is highly unlikely to actually reduce prices on their supermarket shelves but will perhaps make them more profit.
Our own MD, John Quaye, almost two years ago criticised the IOM Harbour User Agreement with the Steam Packet stating that the agreement "no longer meets the needs of the Island and is in urgent need of revising". The current situation demonstrates that the User Agreement is ineffectual and we will see a similar situation to that which occurred when Sealink/Manx Line and the Steam Packet went head to head some 25 years ago.
Perhaps following the potential problems posed by this competition, our MHK's will sit up and take notice and the agreement will be revised and made to fit the current requirements of the Isle of Man.