The European Investment Bank is providing €155 million to finance two new passenger and vehicle ships for the Irish Continental Group subsidiary Irish Ferries. The two ferries will increase passenger and cargo capacity on routes from Ireland, replace older and smaller vessels, and significantly reduce emissions from the Irish Ferries fleet.
The new ferries are expected to be used on the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg routes to reflect demand for a greater choice of services from Ireland to Britain and direct to continental Europe. The announcement was made as the W.B. Yeats cruise ferry made its maiden voyage from Dublin to Holyhead.
The largest ever EIB support for Irish shipping was announced during a visit by Andrew McDowell, Vice President, European Investment Bank, and Eamonn Rothwell, Chief Executive, Irish Continental Group. The latest addition to the Irish Ferries fleet, the new W.B. Yeats, was partly financed using €75 million from the EIB. The W.B. Yeats can transport 1,800 passengers, 300 cars and 165 trucks and, following delivery in December, has now commenced sailings on the Dublin-Holyhead Route. The second ship, expected to be completed in 2020 and unnamed as yet, will likely transport 1,800 passengers and crew and 1,526 cars or 300 trucks.
Eamonn Rothwell said: “Significant new investment is essential to expand the Irish Ferries fleet and better serve our customers’ increased demand for passenger and freight transport. The €155 million financing facilities agreed with the EIB, alongside financing from leading Irish and international banks, for the two new cruise ferry ships demonstrates the EIB’s commitment to support transformational corporate investment such as this in Ireland, enabling ICG to deliver on its growth strategy and strengthening the tourism and cargo trading links in and out of the country. We were delighted to take delivery of the superb W.B Yeats in December. The ship is the next level in terms of the experience it offers our customers. After operating on the Irish Sea, the W.B. Yeats will move to service the busy Dublin-Cherbourg route in the coming months.”
Andrew McDowell said: “Shipping connections are crucial for Ireland and the European Investment Bank is pleased together with ICG to support two new ships that will both transform maritime transport to and from this country and cut harmful emissions. The €155 million long-term EIB loans will support €309 million of new investment in best-in-class vessels that will serve Irish routes for years to come. The new W.B. Yeats, on its maiden voyage from Dublin today, together with the second vessel will transform freight capacity and passenger travel from Ireland to the UK and continental Europe.
“The first approval of financing under the EIB’s Green Shipping initiative reflects firm commitment of ICG to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Increasing maritime transport capacity reflects increased demand arising from Ireland’s export driven recovery and the potential need for flexibility in the event of disruption on UK routes. In the context of EIB’s ever-increasing support for Irish private businesses, these two loans also demonstrate the value that EIB loans can provide to Irish corporates through beneficial pricing, long tenors and flexible loan structures.”
Ireland Leading the Way with Green Shipping
The long-term loan to Irish Continental Group represents the first support approved by the EIB under a new Green Shipping financing initiative that supports investment in new and existing ships to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
The W.B. Yeats ship incorporates emissions scrubber technology to reduce sulphur oxide pollution and ballast water systems that meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption and efficiencies.
EIB Support for Second New Irish Ferries Ship
The EIB is providing €80 million to finance construction of a second new vessel for Irish Continental Group’s Irish Ferries operations. Due for delivery during 2020, once operational this vessel will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity and provide Irish Ferries with an effective 50% increase in peak freight capacity.
New Ships to Ensure Flexible Service
The new ships have been designed to enable flexible use on all existing Irish Ferries routes between Irish, British and French ports and the vessels will be used to reflect the increased tourism and freight demand.