Calls for faster ferry

and obligation to cover for airport closure

JM front page reporting on calls for a faster ferry

JM lead with a report that the Commercial and Industrial Association of Funchal (ACIF) has called for a faster ferry and proposed the revision of the contract for the concession of the maritime line between Madeira and Porto Santo in order to provide for the “obligation of the concessionaire (currently Grupo Sousa) to make the necessary trips” to operationalize a contingency plan in situations of inoperability of the airport.

The same “chamber of commerce” has also called for the replacement of the ship by a faster ferry.

The possibility of the Porto Santo ferry providing cover in the event of airport closure has been mooted here for a long time. Normally, when Madeira airport is closed due to wind strength, Porto Santo airport remains open, and it is technically feasible, when the charter planes return, to land tourists on the Golden Isle and transport them to Madeira – particularly using a faster ferry.

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12 thoughts on “Calls for faster ferry”

  1. Needs something like the Mannanan Fast Cat as used by the IOMSP to and from IoM. Can handle the seas we get here no problem and take artics too, so bulk freight no problem.

    Reply
    • Noel, I know the Mannanan well and have to confess even on my first post on Plan B – I’ve had her “pencilled in” for the job hence my 36 knot reference today as she’s slowed down a bit with age – like us all l!

      I did wonder if she’d be available for charter for the Porto Santo run as she spends most of the winter months laid up ‘on standby’ in Douglas and there is a historical connection between the Steam Packet and Porto Santo Line with the Lady of Mann inaugurating the service in 1995. I did wonder if they’d sell her when the new Manxman arrives but apparently it’s the ‘Ben’ – like to see the Lobo Marinho take on her schedule lol.

      Only two drawbacks with the Mannanan – apart from being a ‘gas guzzler’ – 3.5 metre wave height restriction and a wash like a tsunami that’d upset more than a few S.U.P. boarders along the coast of Madeira !!

      Reply
  2. I seem to recall that this subject was the first to tempt me to join the blog and little has changed since then.

    Basically the ” bread and butter” service doesn’t appear to warrant, or be able to support financially the investment required to fund a fast ferry service all year round. With just the basic 6 sailings a week and long turn arounds at each end, what benefit would there be by cutting the sailing time by one hour, as it’s only a 40 mile journey, if you were to invest in a high speed ferry capable of 36 knots?

    The answer to the above question is obviously that when FNC is closed and planes are landing at PXO it could shuttle passengers either way in less time but PXO’s terminal facilities are limited, as we know, and the logistics of two way transfers are going to be complicated but I do agree with ACIF that there should be a contractual obligation to provide cover in these circumstances even at the expense of the normal sailing schedule.

    That said, there are two more problems from a marine perspective:-

    Firstly, generally it is a Northerly wind that causes problems at FNC and if that wind is strong then the seas between Ponta de São Lourenço and Porto Santo will be rough – slowing any ferry down or even leading to cancellation of the service on safety grounds.

    Secondly, such is the ” leisurely” nature of the basic service the ferry only requires one crew to operate the vessel with a relieving of crew members when leave is due. Any increase to a shuttle service would require a second crew to comply with international working time directives and you just can’t conjure another crew up at the ” drop of the hat ” or diversion of a plane.

    If providing a ‘ Plan B ‘ with a fast ferry is deemed the priority, then it’s likely the service will need greater Regional Authority funding, (assuming there is already some funding in place )

    Reply
  3. Wouldn’t it be easier and also quicker to use the port facilities in Canical if and when airport transfers to and from Porto Santo are necessary?

    Reply

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