A roadmap for optimism

Dear all,

I wanted to give you a quick update following the publication of the UK’s roadmap out of the Covid crisis yesterday.

Firstly I’m delighted that a roadmap has been announced and that international travel has not been excluded from planning. This is only for the UK of course, but around 85% of customers are Brits and I am hopeful that this will open the door to discussion about equivalent measures in other countries in which we operate.

The news has been greeted positively in the UK. We reported a three-fold increase in reservations yesterday, albeit from quite low levels. It was also our strongest day for bookings since September 2020 while visits to our website rose by nearly 60%.

I can’t thank you enough for this support at such a difficult time for our company. It goes to show two things: firstly we have a loyal customer base desperate to travel with us when the time (and rules) allow. Secondly, there is a pent-up demand to get away this summer; indeed the trends we are seeing at Brittany Ferries have also been reported widely throughout the travel sector in the UK today (23 February). 

I want to be clear about what Boris Johnson said in relation to international travel. Firstly we must await the report of the Global Travel Taskforce on 12 April. This will make “recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as is possible”.  The British Government will then take a decision on when travel restrictions can be lifted, but this will be no sooner than 17 May (step 3 of the government plan). 

17 May is therefore the key date, a date that vindicates the very difficult decision we had to make not to return certain ships to routes in March as we had originally planned. 

Of course the plan is not the set-in-stone clarity that we would all like. We understand – of course – that the Covid situation is changeable. And I hope we have offered peace of mind for those of you who have already chosen to book with us. Remember that we offer flexible travel options and if you book your accommodation with us at the same time as your ferry there is free Covid insurance and the reassurance of package holiday protection.

On board you have peace of mind too. I don’t need to tell you about the abundance of space on a large ferry and fresh sea air throughout, including in cabins. But it’s probably a good time to remind you the safety measures we implemented as part of our Together and Protected campaign, measures which are now tried-and-tested and which we shall implement again - if necessary - this summer.

Once again, I am very mindful that the roadmap announced yesterday is only the first step and a position being taken in one market, albeit our biggest by quite some way. I would like to reassure everyone in France, Spain and Ireland that we continue to push for a co-ordinated approach to lifting restrictions in all markets, led by science and data of course. 

However, where vaccination rates continue to soar and Covid incidence continues to plummet, I see no reason why restrictions on international travel should remain beyond a reasonable time. We shall therefore continue to lobby for Sea Lane maritime corridors that will allow us to sail - and you to take that holiday you so badly deserve, as soon as it is practical and safe to do so.

Sincerely,

Christophe Mathieu

CEO, Brittany Ferries

Last updated: 23 February 2021