France gives exceptional €45m aid to troubled Brittany Ferries
A direct cash injection from central government is on the way to help the firm, which has been urging such action for over a year
The new aid will help the firm keep going until predicted better times in 2022 Pic: Photo supplied by Brittany Ferries
Brittany Ferries has welcomed the announcement of a one-off grant of €45million from the government, saying it will help it keep going after a cash-flow crisis caused by Covid and Brexit.
Brittany Ferries head of external communications Nigel Wonnacott said: “It will guarantee we’ll be in business next year, and thereby be able to pay back the significant debt we have incurred over two years, where passenger traffic has been roughly a fifth of normal, when we return to more normal levels in 2022.”
For more than a year, the firm says, it has been raising the alarm over the poor state of its finances, linked to drastically reduced passenger numbers.
These were caused by travel restrictions since the pandemic hit last year, combined with the end of the Brexit transition period as of January 1, 2021 which meant the UK was treated as external to the European area with regard to travel rules.
“Since the spring of 2020, I have relentlessly warned the French government of the need for specific support for our sector, on cross-channel services,” said Brittany Ferries president Jean-Marc Roué in a statement.
He said he wished to thank President Macron “for the warm support for our company and our seafarers”, as well as the sea and foreign affairs ministers and the senators of Brittany and Normandy.
“Thanks to them, our company has regained the equity necessary for its recovery. After the time of resilience comes the time of competitiveness.”
The new aid comes on top of a state-guaranteed loan of €117million last year, and relief on workers’ social charges for the year 2021. The firm also received support from the regions of Brittany and Normandy.
Mr Wonnacott said the new “input of cash” had been authorised by the European Commission to compensate the firm “for direct losses caused by border closures and consequent loss of passenger traffic”.
He added it would help with cash-flow over the autumn and winter, especially since the state-guaranteed loan must still be repaid.
It has not yet been specified exactly when it will be paid.