Councillors launch petition to 'Save Brittany Ferries'
Local councillors in Brittany have launched a petition asking the state to help Brittany Ferries through its 'temporary crisis'.
In the petition at sauvonslabrittany.bzh (save Brittany Ferries) 11 mayors and two departmental councillors call on the French state to “intervene without delay to support this flower of our Breton economy”.
It comes as the company told Connexion at the start of this month it was asking the government for an exemption from the employer’s element of the French social charges.
In their petition, the councillors say Brittany Ferries employs around 3,000 people and transports millions of tourists every year, as well as helping Breton agriculture and industry by transporting 160,000 trucks a year.
“Since it’s creation in 1972… Brittany Ferries is a symbol of the development of Brittany and of the Bretons' spirit of initiative,” they say.
“Today it is going through the worst crisis of its history. After Brexit, the Covid-19 crisis and the quarantine measures decided on by the British government have caused a collapse of passenger traffic which is putting the company in danger.
“Major support from the state is necessary to help Brittany Ferries rise above this temporary crisis and save its jobs.”
The firm has already benefited from a €117,000 state-guaranteed loan but has been asking for a social charges exemption over five years to help pay this back, its communications head told The Connexion.
The French government has not yet responded to our requests to know whether a decision is imminent on this and Brittany Ferries told us it has had no feedback from them yet.
The firm's directors are set to meet later this week with Annick Girardin, who was named Minister for the Sea in the Jean Castex government in July. It comes as around 50 French MPs and senators also signed a letter to the prime minister in which they called for “strong, firm promises” to help the whole cross-Channel industry and ferry firms in particular.
The calls for help come as Brittany Ferries has faced severe financial challenges this year related to the Covid-19 crisis and recently had to suspend its Portsmouth to Saint-Malo route.
In an open letter its managing director Christophe Mathieu also recently confirmed that to make economies they will not be accepting any foot passenger bookings this year. He said this was due to the firm’s very complicated summer, in which it had only a quarter of the normal number of passengers.
“As we turn towards 2021 and start paying back a loan of several million euros we obtained the summer, we must do everything we can to maximise income and minimise costs,” he said.