Passengers and cars carried by Irish Ferries both rose in the first half of the year.

Parent company Irish Continental Group reported a 1.7% increase in ferry passenger numbers in the six months to June 30 over the same period last year.

The number of cars carried went up by 2.3% to 174,500 as Irish Ferries operated more than 2,500 sailings in the period.

Revenue in the division was up by €2 million to €93.7 million while earnings [EBITDA] declined to €22.9 million from €23.9 million.

A new ferry is to be added to the fleet next summer.

Overall group EBITDA fell by 3% year-on-year to €29.6 million.

Group chairman John McGuckian said: “I am pleased to report a strong performance in the first six months of the financial year with growth in revenue of 3.7% to €156.1 million.

“The strong performance for the first half of the financial year is underpinned by increased car volumes and the consolidation of the strong RoRo growth over the last two years in the ferries division together with strong growth across the container and terminal division.

“Summer trading remains encouraging across all business areas, we have experienced volume growth in car and freight volumes whilst the further weakening of sterling is offset by easing euro fuel prices.

“We look forward to the arrival in mid-2018 of our new ship which will bring cost savings and significant additional earnings potential to the group.”