BRITTANY Ferries has reported some of the worst passenger numbers in its history, after being battered by the 'double strike' of Brexit and Covid.

The company, which operates the Barfleur on the Poole to Cherbourg service, says coronavirus and ongoing Brexit concerns brought it 'to its knees' , with 2020 passenger numbers plummeting to less than a third of normal levels.

Freight fared slightly better, just 20 per cent down on normal levels, the shipping company's AGM in St Pol de Leon, France, was told on Friday, March 19.

Passenger numbers for sailings between Poole and Cherbourg fell from 207,831 in 2018/19 to just 35, 002 in 2019/20.

In 2017/18, some 211,545 passengers were carried by Brittany Ferries between Poole and Cherbourg.

Brittany Ferries president Jean Marc Roué said: “In the last few years Brittany Ferries faced a double strike, firstly as a consequence of Brexit challenges and then as a result of Covid.

"On Brexit, the unfavourable sterling-euro exchange rate hit our bottom line.

"The value of sterling plummeted directly after the 2016 vote and, since then, the company lost €115 million in potential income as the majority of revenue is generated in sterling and costs come in euros.

"Brexit concerns also affected demand. Three potential dates for the UK’s departure from the EU in 2019 created uncertainty and anxiety in the marketplace and passenger numbers fell by five per cent.

"Despite these challenges, we remained profitable."

Last year, Brittany Ferries carried 752,102 passengers. That was less than a third of the total it would carry in a normal year.

By comparison, in 2019 it carried 2,498,354 passengers across all routes.

Jean Marc Roué said: "Last year the Covid crisis brought our company to its knees.

"It struck a blow for the regions we serve and enrich, and the French seafarers we are proud to employ.

"Despite this, we are determined to remain part of the fabric of life in the north west of France as well as in the UK, Ireland and Spain and we must thank the regions of Normandy and Brittany, the banks and French state for their on-going support throughout this dark period.

"With a collective will to return stronger, I believe Brittany Ferries will overcome the greatest challenge in its history.”

PASSENGERS BY ROUTE 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020

ROSCOFF – PLYMOUTH 369,605 328,133 78,445

ST-MALO – PORTSMOUTH 349,002 325,198 89,052

CHERBOURG – POOLE 211,545 207,831 35,002

CHERBOURG – PORTSMOUTH 166,910 143,506 17,394

CAEN – PORTSMOUTH 929,929 914,380 357,675

LE HAVRE – PORTSMOUTH 145,524 157,814 32,022

CHANNEL 2,172,515 2,076,862 609,590

IRELAND/FRANCE/SPAIN 97,174 120,193 19,822

UK/SPAIN 358,272 301,299 122,690

ALL ROUTES 2,627,961 2,498,354 752,102

FREIGHT ROUTES 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020

Units carried

ROSCOFF – PLYMOUTH 4,994 4,787 2,906

ST-MALO - PORTSMOUTH 9,596 9,450 3,522

CHERBOURG - POOLE 18,054 19,499 7,700


CAEN – PORTSMOUTH 100,265 101,220 95,245

LE HAVRE – PORTSMOUTH 30,962 23,255 8,907

CHANNEL 164,421 158,524 126,095

IRELAND/FRANCE/SPAIN 1,059 6,377 7,250

UK/SPAIN 39,921 36,653 27,032

ALL ROUTES 205,401 201,554 160,377