The parent company of Irish Ferries described 2014 as a successful year with increased carryings and revenues on the back of an improved tourist market to Ireland.
Irish Continental Group saw revenue rise by 10% to more than €290 million and earnings [EBITDA] up by 2.6% to €50.5 million.
Irish Ferries’ car carryings rose by 8.8% to 381,800 with passenger numbers up by 4.8% to 1.6 million.
The chartered vessel Epsilon introduced to the fleet in late 2013 added 18 additional weekly sailings between Dublin and Holyhead as well as a weekly round trip between Dublin and France.
As a result, Irish Ferries increased its sailings across its route network by 19% from 4,381 in 2013 to 5,210 in 2014.
The first two months of 2015 saw car numbers up 16% and passengers 3% ahead of the same period last year.
“Lower world fuel prices have softened the impact of the introduction of the low sulphur directive in the English Channel and are also providing a stimulus to the transportation sector generally,” company chairman John McGuckian said.
“As a result of these factors, and bearing in mind the general improvement in the economic outlook in our sphere of operations, we look forward, in the absence of unforeseen circumstances and assuming continued low oil prices, to strong growth in revenue and earnings for the financial year 2015.”
He added: “The strong market and Irish Ferries performances reflect the positive performance of the Irish tourist industry.
“Initiatives by the tourist industry such as the Wild Atlantic Way, have been instrumental in promoting 'own car' tourism around the west and southern Irish coasts, and have helped broaden the distribution of tourists around the island.”
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