Stena Line buys two routes on Irish Sea

From: Stena Line
Published: Mon Dec 20 2010

Stena Line has signed an agreement with DFDS to acquire its Liverpool (Birkenhead) to Belfast and Heysham to Belfast routes.

The acquisition, which amounts to approximately £40M, will enable Stena Line to improve its service on the Irish Sea by offering several different alternatives for transportation between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In recent years, Stena Line has invested heavily in significant improvements across the whole of its route network. Irish Sea Ferry area director Michael McGrath believes the latest acquisition reflects Stena Line's commitment to the Irish Sea and will improve service and frequency for passengers and freight.

"These new Irish Sea routes will complement our existing services for ferries to the UK perfectly and enable us to offer our customers even more options for ferry transport across the Irish Sea," said McGrath.

"At the same time, we are strengthening Belfast as a transport hub for freight and passengers to and from Northern Ireland," he added.

Included in the purchase from DFDS are four ships which include the chartered Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways on the Liverpool-Belfast route and the freight carriers Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways, all of which are now to be taken over by Stena Line.

"We will continue to develop the routes and look at the capacity we will need in the future," said Stena Line CEO Gunnar Blomdahl. "During the last 10 years, we have invested approximately €250M in our Irish Sea operations and, going forward, we will continue to invest in the development of our services between Britain and Ireland."

The transaction between Stena Line and DFDS will be notified to the Irish and UK competition authorities.

In a separate announcement, Stena Line also revealed that, following a decision made some time ago, it will close its Fleetwood ferry crossing to Larne operations due to ongoing losses on the route.

"Since we acquired the route in 2004, we have made progress in terms of improving the quality of service to our customers but, despite all the hard work of everyone associated with the route, we have continued to trade at a significant loss, and it is not envisaged this position will change," said Irish Sea area director Michael McGrath.

"The ferries to Larne route operates with older tonnage which can be problematic but investment in newer tonnage is not an option as the higher capital costs would make our losses even worse.

"No business can continue to carry such losses on an ongoing basis so there is no alternative but to close the route at the end of this year," he added.

"The decision to close ferries to Fleetwood was taken some time ago on the basis of the current and projected performance of the route, and before the opportunity arose to buy these other routes," he explained.

About Stena Line:
Stena Line is one of the world's largest ferry operators, with ferry services serving Scotland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Norway, England, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and Poland. Stena Line is a major unit of Stena AB, itself a part of the Stena Sphere, a grouping of Stena AB, Stena Metall AB and Stena Sessan AB. Stena Line also owns the Swedish vessels of the otherwise German and Danish-owned Scandlines.

Stena Line PR contact:
Nigel Tilson
Stena Line Communications Manager (UK)
Victoria Terminal 4
West Bank Road
028 9088 4036
Company: Stena Line
Contact Name: Nigel Tilson
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 028 9088 4036

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