An estimated 62,000 additional passengers were carried by passenger ferries through Irish ports over the first six days of the aviation crisis according to data from the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO). The unprecedented events resulted in an estimated 300% increase in the demand for ferry passenger services at this time of the year.
73% of the traffic moved through the principal gateways along the central corridor with record numbers of passenger moving through Dublin Port. Elsewhere, similar increased demand was catered for by operators at Rosslare (23% share of traffic), while the new service from Cork also provided additional capacity and distribution to the south of the island.
Commenting on the numbers IMDO Director Glenn Murphy said “The measured and co-ordinated response of all ferry operators, port companies and other transport providers to this surge in demand has been exceptional. There was clearly excellent co-operation between the various groups in their response to this national situation, which was undertaken in an efficient and professional manner at a time when it was most needed.”
Ports and shipping lines provided added additional shuttle bus services to facilitate the surge in the numbers of foot passengers seeking to travel while ferry companies also endeavoured to ensure that all passengers were accommodated during the disruption, with sailings delayed to allow additional time to board the extra passengers.
The National Emergency Co-ordinating Committee also acknowledged the response of the ferry operators and ports in their efforts to relieve the pressures caused by the aviation crisis. The Taskforce noted there had been no increase in ferry passenger charges, despite the massive increase in demand. The constructive and proactive engagement of the ferry operators over the past few days is to be complimented.
Sailings are still running at high capacities on all main gateways, although there is still availability on most routes. Demand levels are expected to return to more normal seasonal levels over the course of next week. These figures come against the background of figures for the full year, recently reported by the IMDO which illustrated that passenger numbers remained constant during 2009 with no fall off in passenger volumes recorded despite the difficult economic conditions.
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