Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) has released its 2010 results, which point towards an improvement in overall trading conditions, more particularly with regard to shipments of goods to (and from) Portsmouth and the Irish Republic. Simultaneously, the implementation of a range of key projects in 2011 — involving the improvement of facilities at Cherbourg and Caen, and enhanced partnerships with Le Havre and Rouen — is set to strengthen PNA ports in relation to cross-Channel traffic flows.
In 2010, Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) presided over the successful completion of various key projects such as the development of the coal terminal at Cherbourg and the installation of an offshore transshipment hub, or the completion of a new turning area (or swinging space) upstream of the Blainville terminal, for the port of Caen. (This improvement will allow ships to carry out the manoeuvre without having to go back upstream as far as Herouville, and under the bridge, at Collombelles.)
In Caen, still, various preliminary studies have been conducted and planning permission secured in order to carry out a 4.2-hectare extension of the downstream ferry terminal, at Ouistreham. Work is due to start in February 2011, for completion in the course of 2012.
In Cherbourg, the improved yachting facilities for pleasure boats have been completed. Additionally, the redevelopment of Berth No4, so that it may accommodate longer, new-generation ferries, has been finalised. The modernisation of the mobile works will continue this year, with the setting-up of a centralised system to control the locks and moving bridges remotely, thus improving performance.
New partnerships were set in train in 2010 by PNA in order to reinforce the development prospects of the Norman ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg, in what is a highly competitive environment. First of all, an agreement was signed with the Port of Le Havre for the joint launch of a call to tender, the aim of which is the implementation of an inter-port container shuttle service between Caen and Le Havre. Market studies have shown that there is considerable potential for the setting-up of a regular maritime service between the two ports. Operators are expected to finalise their offers of services at some stage during 2011.
With the Port of Rouen, prospective studies have been launched in order to identify potentially dynamic areas of joint development. The results of these studies should be made available by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
Reflecting a strong will to work more closely with the British market, which constitutes a natural geographical extension to the ports of the Normandy coast, an agreement has been signed with the French Trade Commission UBIFRANCE in London, the aim of which is to raise awareness of PNA in the British marketplace, on the one hand, and to facilitate the identification of potential partners in the UK for the development of PNA’s port activities, on the other hand.
In overall business terms, PNA recorded, in 2010, a modest but tangible improvement in the level of activity, as compared to the previous year, more particularly on the Portsmouth route and in the trade with the Irish Republic. Beyond the tentative economic upturn observed in most sectors, the pursuit of an ambitious programme of development places PNA in a positive dynamic, despite continuing challenges, notably in relation to cross-Channel traffic. The year 2011 should offer renewed opportunities for the development of PNA’s two ports — Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg.
Results regarding passenger traffic in 2010 are contrasted. A drop in cross-Channel activity at Cherbourg, at the top of the Cotentin peninsula, affected PNA’s overall results: with 1.65 million passengers going through Cherbourg, this represented a fall of 4.3% (2010 compared with 2009).
Whereas passenger traffic between Ireland and Cherbourg soared by 26.4%, passenger numbers between Cherbourg and England fell by 28.3%. In Caen-Ouistreham, meanwhile, passenger traffic rose by 4% in 2010, year on year, with more than one million passengers going through the port.
There is little doubt that Cherbourg was affected negatively by the prevailing economic conditions in Western Europe, specifically in terms of traffic flows to (and from) England. Indeed, the pound sterling remains weak against the euro, which has affected British consumers and dented their purchasing power on the Continent; in turn, this has had a negative impact on cross-Channel passenger traffic, as fewer British visitors travelled overseas. This exchange-rate factor has not featured as far as services to (and from) the Irish Republic are concerned, since the Republic of Ireland is part of the euro-zone.
Other factors affecting passenger-traffic levels included the fact that the Normandy Express fast link resumed later in the year than on previous occasions. Besides, the halting of the service in 2010, for technical reasons, which lasted nearly a month, also had an adverse impact on passenger volumes.
Brittany Ferries, on the other hand, has announced that it is putting back into service the Barfleur ferry between Cherbourg and Poole (in southern England) at the beginning of this year (2011): this should generate an early increase in passenger traffic out of Cherbourg.
Cruise activity constitutes a different business segment altogether. In 2010, there was also a drop in passenger numbers, as compared to 2009. A total of 24 cruise ships still called at Cherbourg in 2010, representing 63,500 passengers. This year, 2011, already looks more promising, with a provisional schedule of 31 cruise ships due to call at Cherbourg. Besides, operator MSC has chosen Cherbourg as its head-of-the-line point for embarkation/disembarkation of passengers on certain cruises.
Overall cross-Channel shipments of goods to (and from) England were affected, in 2010, by the recession in Western Europe. There is little doubt that competition from the Eurotunnel fixed link also remains a challenge for PNA and for other Channel ports. The fixed link has an impact on flows of goods between France and England, while the Irish routes are not as directly affected by it.
Goods traffic to (and from) England experienced a drop in 2010 as compared to 2009, with ships departing from Cherbourg and bound for England transporting 30,000 fewer freight units (year on year), i.e. a fall of 39.6%. This was partly offset, however, by a rise in goods traffic to (and from) the Republic of Ireland, with 26,000 extra freight units, amounting to an increase of 20.6% (year on year).
In terms of flows of goods between France (and Continental Europe) and Ireland, there is no doubt that the underlying trend favours PNA ports. Road congestion in the south of Great Britain, more particularly, makes the Anglo-Welsh ‘land bridge’ to the south of Ireland less attractive. Conversely, direct maritime links between PNA ports and Ireland enable hauliers to bypass England. This has resulted in more ships sailing from Cherbourg to Irish ports, and in Cherbourg becoming France’s leading port for roll on-roll off goods traffic to the Irish Republic.
As far as Caen-Ouistreham is concerned, with shipments of goods to the southern English port of Portsmouth amounting to 116,000 freight units, the rise represented 7.2% (year on year). PNA considers that the trend for goods traffic between Caen-Ouistreham and Portsmouth is very encouraging, and should be confirmed in 2011.
Whereas cross-Channel goods traffic faced challenging and contrasted conditions, consolidated results for PNA regarding shipments of conventional goods, in 2010, were very positive: in 2009, PNA ports handled 433,150 metric tons of goods, against 890,000 tons in 2010. It is, above all, the agri-foodstuffs industry, in Caen-Ouistreham, which raised traffic levels to a new high, with close to 560,000 tons handled — a leap of nearly 150% on the year before, 2009.
If one puts aside the timber traffic (from northern Europe), which stagnated, all other categories of goods were on the rise. In Cherbourg, the coal terminal experienced a first, with the arrival of a Panamax vessel at the Flamands quayside, in order to offload 20,000 metric tons of coal and to upload about 7,000 tons onto a feeder ship. This new activity is expected to grow throughout 2011. Finally, the weekly container service between Cherbourg, Southampton and Jersey, run by operator Huelin-Renouf, has been holding its own.
The ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg are owned and run by Ports Normands Associés, known in English as the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA). PNA’s head office is in Caen.
The historic region of Normandy is currently made up of two separate regions: Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie, in French) and Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie). The ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg are located on the north-west coast of France and face southern England, on the other side of the English Channel. They belong to the western, maritime part of Basse-Normandie
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Ms Mary-Ann WILLIAMS - Press Officer
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