The Isle of Man passenger shipping company Steam Packet Company is planning to invest GBP 170 million (USD 250 million) in new vessels, port facilities and fare reductions, as well as increased year-round passenger capacity and a new frequent traveller scheme for its Isle of Man sea services.
The company said it would invest in two new vessels and commit to retaining its Ro-Pax vessel Ben-my-Chree to provide comprehensive passenger and freight back-up to the fleet, as it prepares to continue providing services in the area beyond 2026.
The Isle of Man Government last year said that it was considering the future of strategic sea services for the island as the current user agreement is due to end in 2026.
“Since the start of the User Agreement there has been major private investment in vessels, much lower fares (halved in real terms) with improved offers and availability, and significant marketing each year to promote the Isle of Man,” Steam Packet Company, Chief Executive Mark Woodward, said.
“We want to consolidate these benefits and provide a platform for further investment and improvements in service delivery for another generation. If a new Strategic Sea Services Agreement, to guarantee services beyond 2026, can be reached this year we will bring forward our planned investment,” Woodward added.
Steam Packet Company said that, if an agreement is made this year, it would deliver a replacement for Ben-my-Chree by 2019/21 and its high speed craft Manannan by 2022/23, while its Ro-Ro ship MV Arrow would be retained as freight back-up until Ben-my-Chree is replaced, after which time the Ben would become the company’s permanent third vessel.