Irish Ferries has confirmed plans to deploy a third ship on the Dover-Calais route by next spring.
Parent company Irish Continental Group is acquiring a Spanish-built ferry which is expected to be delivered by late-January 2022.
The passenger ro-ro ferry Ciudad de Mahon is being bought from Trasmed.
The vessel, with a capacoity for 589 passengers, will serve the Dover-Calais route operated by Irish Ferries after dry docking and branding changes.
The company entered the short sea Channel route in June with the ferry Isle of Inishmore (pictured).
A second vessel, Isle of Innisfree, was delivered to the group earlier this month and is expected to enter service between the UK and France in December.
The Ciudad de Mahon is then expected to commence services in the first quarter of 2022.
Irish Continental Group said: “The introduction of these two vessels, representing a total investment of €35.5 million, alongside the Isle of Inishmore completes our previously announced plan to introduce three vessels on the Dover-Calais route.
“This will allow Irish Ferries to offer up to 30 sailings per day on the route with sailings in each direction approximately every 90 minutes.”
The deployment plans came as the group revealed a 22% increase in revenue to €279.7 million in the year to November 20 over the same period in 2020. This was partially offset by rising costs, including fuel which increased by €17 million due to increased sailings and higher global prices.
Total revenues at Irish Ferries were up by 24% to €144.5 million in the period to October 31.
The group said: “The impact of Covid-related restrictions has had a significant impact on passenger traffic with car volumes year to date on a like-for-like basis, excluding Dover-Calais, down 61% compared with 2019 but reassuringly with the easing of restrictions car volumes in the period August 22 to November 20 were only down 22% compared with the same period in 2019.”