Irish Ferries owner sees revenue surge 62% compared with pre-Covid period

Irish Continental Group introduced the new Dover-Calais service in June 2021 and enjoyed a bounce from lifting of travel restrictions

Revenue at the owner of Irish Ferries has surged 78.9 per cent so far this year compared with the same period of 2021, and 62.1 per cent compared with the same period of pre-Covid 2019.

Irish Continental Group (ICG) issued a trading update on Wednesday covering carryings for the year to November 19th, 2022, as well as financial information for the first 10 months of 2022.

It recorded consolidated group revenue of €500.5 million in the period. Net debt figures were €129.7 million compared to €84.6 million at year end. Including lease obligations, net debt figures were €175.7 million compared to €142.2 million at year end.

The company said the increase in net debt was primarily derived from strategic capital expenditure, mainly comprising the acquisition of two vessels.


Total revenues recorded in the group’s ferries division in the period to October 31st amounted to €338 million, which was a 133.9 per cent increase on the €144.5 million it achieved last year and an 83.4 per cent increase on 2019.

The group said the increase was principally due to the easing of travel restrictions as compared to the same period last year, increased fuel surcharges, and the new Dover-Calais service which commenced in June 2021.

For the year to November 19th, Irish Ferries carried 525,600 cars, an increase of 198 per cent on the previous year.

It carried 618,100 units of freight, which represented an increase of 143.8 per cent compared with 2021.

Excluding volumes on the Dover-Calais route, Irish Ferries carried 272,900 cars, an increase of 91.5 per cent on 2021, and 257,000 freight units, which represented an increase of 10 per cent.

In its container and terminal division, ICG recorded total revenues of €190.5 million, up 30 per cent from €146.5 million in 2021, and up 45.4 per cent on 2019.

This increase was predominantly driven by the pass-through of increased fuel costs and vessel charter rates, ICG said.

Container freight volumes shipped were down 7.4 per cent on the previous year at 292,100, with some softness in recent deep-sea container movements as world growth slows. Units handled at its terminals in Dublin and Belfast decreased 4.5 per cent year-on-year to 287,000 lifts.

ICG said both of the group’s divisions “have performed strongly” for the first 11 months of the year.

“However, as we enter 2023, the world is facing higher inflation and higher interest rates, both of which pose a challenging backdrop for economic growth,” it said.

“Deep-sea container movements are usually a leading indicator for economic slowdown and the recent weakness here is not unexpected.

“While we assume the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic has passed and some normality to our markets has returned, the level of inflation faced by the business and our customers is concerning.

“While fuel prices may ease versus earlier in the year with the expected slowdown in economic activity, other costs in the business have increased. The business has so far been successful in passing through most of these increases.

“Our record of substantial investment in people, ships and terminal facilities and the strength of our balance sheet means we are well placed to compete in this emerging tougher environment and to tap into whatever interesting opportunities might emerge.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter