No-deal ‘could be catastrophe’ warns ferry boss

Brexit is hitting bookings as travel firms cannot address consumers’ questions about the possible disruption to travel in the event of no deal.

Brittany Ferries’ chief executive Christophe Mathieu highlighted the problem at an Abta Brexit briefing in London on Thursday, saying: “No deal could be a catastrophe for a company like ours.”

He told the Abta event on Brexit and the Future of UK Travel: “You can imagine the pound goes down, consumer confidence goes down – 85% of our customers are British. That is two million customers a year.”

Mathieu said: “One of our biggest concerns is that we can’t offer the reassurance we want to when people book holidays.

“We face questions daily. We are unable to give answers other than that ‘We hope to minimise disruption’ and preserve the status quo.”

He said: “Bookings are down about 6% [year on year] for Brittany and Spain. They are down more for families who sail with us every year.”

Yet Mathieu insisted: “We remain optimistic. Britain will still be part of Europe. St Malo will be no further from Portsmouth. We will still be able to sail to Spain.

“Politics is politics, but geography is geography.”

Mathieu noted Brittany Ferries was among the companies recently awarded UK Department for Transport contracts to deliver vital supplies, including medicines, to Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He described the deal as “our insurance against catastrophe”.

Brittany Ferries was founded by a group of Breton farmers to transport their produce to the UK in 1973, the year Britain joined the EU.

It operates ferries between the UK and France and Spain.

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