by Graham Tutthill
LD Lines and Transeuropa Ferries have announced a commercial agreement to launch a freight and passenger service between Ramsgate and Ostend.
It is due to start next month, and will initially involve one ferry, LD Lines' Norman Spirit which currently operates between Dover and Boulogne. The ship will be renamed Ostend Spirit.
It will operate two return sailings a day, with a crossing time of four hours. The ship is expected to replace one of the current Transeuropa Ferries' fleet later in 2010.
Another ferry, the former Brave Merchant, will replace the Norman Spirit on the Dover-Boulogne route.
Starting between March 15 and 30, the two companies will co-operate on commercial aspects of the route.
LD Lines will take a lead in the development of the tourist passenger business while Transeuropa Ferries will continue to build its focus on freight traffic and ship operations.
LD Lines' Managing Director, Christophe Santoni said, "We are very pleased to announce this development which will combine the considerable expertise of both companies.
"For LD Lines it will further expand our ferry service network and we can now offer the market an extensive choice of routes from the west to east across the English Channel to France, and now to a northern located port in Belgium. The port of Ostend geographically is very well placed to attract new business from the Benelux, Germany and Easter European countries."
Dominique Penel, General Manager of Transeuropa Ferries added : "This makes good economic sense for both companies in relation to moving the service forward.
"Transeuropa have established an excellent, solid freight business via the Ramsgate - Ostend route since we began in 1998 and now with a larger ship, we have the potential to improve the level of service to our freight customers, whilst also developing the tourist traffic through LD Lines' passenger marketing resources."
The Ostend Spirit will continue to operate under the British flag and be branded in LD Lines' and Transeuropa Ferries' colours.
Johan Vande Lanotte, Chairman of the port of Ostend and former Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium said: "This is excellent news for the port of Ostend and for the region.
"This is a clear signal we have survived the worst of the crisis and we are now building for the future. This co-operation is an important step in our plan for growth."
LD Lines' tourist fares on the Ramsgate-Ostend service will be available for cars and passengers, cars and caravans, motorhomes and motorcycles. Launch offer fares starts from £24 single for a car and five passengers, subject to availability.
.0844 576 8836 or call: www.ldlines.comFor more information and to book: