Published: 10:25, 26 March 2021
| Updated: 12:40, 30 March 2021
Ferry operator Irish Ferries is to begin a cross channel service from Dover.
The Dublin based travel firm confirmed its expansion into the Dover/Calais short sea route through a statement from owner Irish Continental Group.
It has been reported a freight and passenger service will be begin in June, providing direct competition with existing providers P&O Ferries and DFDS.
The Port of Dover said this morning: "This is a clear signal of market confidence in the Dover route and will complement the resilient services currently provided."
The Irish Times is reporting the ship Isle of Inishmore is to be transferred to the route from Rosslare Harbour in the Republic of Ireland with additional capacity added.
Doug Bannister, Chief Executive, Port of Dover, said: “We are delighted to welcome Irish Ferries to Dover. This announcement gives the millions of customers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland who value the intrinsic benefits of the shortest sea crossing to Europe, the prospect of even more choice.
"We believe the inclusive landbridge product will be popular with Irish exporters and will strengthen the just in time supply chain into the European Union.
"This is a clear signal of market confidence in the Dover route and will complement the resilient services currently provided.
"We wish Irish Ferries every success and look forward to having them on the route in the summer and working together as part of the Dover team building the future success of the Short Straits.”
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, Chairman, Port of Calais, said: “The commencement of the service operated by Irish Ferries emphasises the strategic position of the port of Calais in the trade between Ireland, the United Kingdom and the continent.
" It is a clear sign of confidence just a few weeks before the opening of the new port of Calais.”
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said:“This is excellent news for the Port of Dover and will provide more opportunities for importers and exporters to access European markets.
“The Dover-Calais route is more important than ever as we begin our new relationship with the European Union, and this decision by Irish Ferries represents a strong vote of confidence in the small straits.
"The continued success of the Port will be crucial for trade and the growth of our local and national economies going forwards.”
Irish Ferries has been asked to comment.