CONDOR Ferries has confirmed that it will run its new high-speed ferries from Poole from next spring.
Its new larger high-speed ferry, the Austal 102, will sail from its new base instead of Weymouth’s Port which was deemed unsuitable and requiring millions of pounds worth of investment to make it viable.
However, Condor has said that the arrangement with Poole Harbour is a “medium-term” arrangement to allow Weymouth and Portland Borough Council time to outline its plans for the port.
Condor will still operate the Vitesse vessel from Weymouth until Easter next year.
The Austal will replace the Vitesse and Condor Express on a single sailing from UK to the Channel Islands.
The latest acquisition to the Condor fleet follows a £50million investment by the company and will come into service in spring 2015.
James Fulford, Condor chief executive, said: “I am delighted to announce that we are now proud owners of the Austal 102. “This represents £50m of investment in our Islands and it will enable us to improve reliability, increase capacity, and give our guests a much greater level of comfort.
“We plan to introduce the 102 in spring 2015 and, in the months ahead, we will be sharing more details about this superb new ship and announcing ways in which Islanders can be involved in our preparations.”
Mr Fulford added: “Poole is a modern and well-connected port, well-liked by our customers.
“We recognise that this is disappointing news for Weymouth. However, given the need for berth improvements and an Environmental Impact Assessment, Weymouth is not currently in a position to accommodate the 102.
“Reaching a medium-term arrangement with Poole will give certainty to our customers, our Islands, and Poole Harbour Commissioners, whilst also allowing enough time for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council to establish their long term plans for their port.
“We will continue to operate Condor Vitesse from Weymouth until spring 2015, when we introduce the 102.”
Jim Stewart, chief executive of Poole Harbour Commissioners, said they are pleased that Condor Ferries will be operating their new Austal 102 fast craft from Poole next spring.
He added: “The port has been providing high levels of service to Condor Ferries for the past twenty years and we look forward to operating as the exclusive fast ferry UK port for Channel Island services.
“It is also very good news for the local economy and Poole businesses will benefit from the additional sailings and customers that the new ferry will bring.
“We look forward to working closely with Condor Ferries to ensure that the impressive new vessel is a great success for their customers and the region.”
Welcoming the announcement Roger Williams, president of Poole Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said the new arrangement will provide a boost for local businesses.
“It’s very good news for Poole,” he said.
“It puts us on the map and gives us greater visibility. It will bring more people to the area to access the Channel Islands and should increase footfall in the town.”
He added: “Although it is an interim measure hopefully it will stay for some time bringing more opportunities and more revenue to the town.”
Councillor Xena Dion, cabinet portfolio Holder for a Prosperous and Sustainable Poole, Borough of Poole, said: “The Condor Ferries’ new ship is fantastic news for Poole and its residents.
“The high speed service attracts people from considerable distances but we hope local people will also use it as much as they can.
“It is important to have a vibrant and thriving economy and this potential new service will provide a welcome boost to our town.”