The increase in freight versus number of passengers and the overbooking of European ferry shipyards are challenges, said Grimaldi Group external relations manager Paul Kyprianou ꟷ but he highlighted that now is the time for ferry operators to make investments.
“Shipyards that are specialised in building ferries are overbooked and this has an effect on the future buildings that we need to have. How can we grow the supply?” Mr Kyprianou told delegates at the recently-held Shippax Ferry Conference.
But despite this, he said: “We feel that the low cost of fuel is an opportunity for companies to make investments, it was the biggest cost we had ꟷ some years ago it made up 70-80 per cent of the total cost of some lines, so this is the time to make changes.”
Singling out the Mediterranean, he said the state of the overall fleet in that area was “something that needed to be faced”. “The average age is quite high and this is some concern for us, as a company we have tried to persuade Brussels that maybe they should give incentives to phase out the older fleet.”
The trend for the growth of freight versus the decrease in customers is seen in the Mediterranean. Mr Kyprianou said: “We have to face this problem and adapt vessels to what is happening in the future…we also have low-cost airlines competing with us.”
When it comes to using LNG as a fuel, he said that: “We are not fans of LNG, particularly in the Mediterranean we don’t think we are ready for that. The Baltic and the north of Europe are a few steps ahead.”
He opined that he didn’t know if the Mediterranean would be able to offer the bunkering facilities in a “fast way in order to have LNG vessels in the Mediterranean in the short-term”.