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Steam Packet issue to be debated in Tynwald

13th December, 2010

The problems faced by the Isle of Man Steam Packet following the introduction of a rival freight shipping service by Ramsey based company, Mezeron, look set to dominate the December sitting of Tynwald, which starts on Tuesday 14th.

Michael MHK David Cannan has proposed a motion to take the Company into public ownership in order to once and for all secure the "Islands Lifeline" There are a number of other questions, covering various related issues including the Steam Packet staff pension scheme.

The chairman of the Steam Packet, Robert Quayle, says his company will take on the competition and win. Speaking on Manx Radio, he admitted the Packet had lost 15 per cent or more freight business to rivals Mezeron which could lead to an increase in passenger fares. The company's owners, Australian bank MacQuarrie, have indicated they were not going to walk away from the situation and would do all in their power to meet the challenge.

Interestingly, the Mezeron container service does not seem to be faring too well having suffered 3 days with no arrivals at all and late arrivals on at least 5 occasions in the past four weeks all due to weather conditions. On several days the chartered vessels have arrived in Douglas with fewer than half a dozen containers which is hardly break even point. It would appear that the supermarkets are hedging their bets and shipping their perishable freight on the much more reliable and punctual Steam Packet service meaning that the container service looks like being particulalry unprofitable and ultimately unviable.

Since the inception of the harbour user agreement, the contention was that there was never enough freight for two shipping lines and once again this is proving to be so. Of course due to their passenger committments, the likelihood of the Steam Pacekt being the ultimate survivor is the probable outcome of the present squall.

Manx Independent Carriers remain firmly committed to our customers and to the Steam Packet as an unreliable shipping service is not a service at all.

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