Irish Ferries’ operating profit declined in the first half of the year due to the extra costs of chartering in an additional vessel.

Earnings dropped to €10.3 million in the six months to June 30 against €12.1 million in the same period in 2013.

Revenue rose to €77.7 million from €69.4 million after the chartered vessel Epsilon was introduced in December to provide a weekly Dublin-Cherbourg service and an additional 18 sailings a week on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

“The financial results for the period reflect the additional costs of operating the Epsilon during the start-up phase on both the Dublin-Cherbourg and Dublin-Holyhead routes,” parent company Irish Continental Group reported today.

Irish Ferries operated more than 2,500 sailings in the period, up 19% on the same period last year, and carried 0.8% more passengers at 683,800 and 5.9% more cars at 150,900.

Company chairman John McGuckian said: ”The introduction of the new RoRo ship Epsilon on the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg routes has allowed us to grow both our freight and tourism businesses substantially during the year to date.

“I am particularly pleased with the growth in our RoRo freight business, up 20% in volume terms year to date (23 August 2014) while car volumes also remain strong – up 8% year to date.

“The increases in both flows of business vindicate our decision to incur the necessary start-up costs in providing this much needed capacity.”