Brittany Ferries (BAI)

Past and Present – Brittany Ferries (BAI)

Brittany Ferries is the trading name of Bretagne Angleterre Irlande SA (BAI), a French passenger shipping company that operates a fleet of ferries and cruise ferries between France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, and directly between the United Kingdom and Spain. Brittany Ferries is the leading maritime carrier across the Bay of Biscay, Western Channel and Central Channel and remains the leading employer of French sailors.

Bretagne Angleterre Irlande SA (BAI) was founded in 1972 by Alexis Gourvennec and a group of his fellow Breton farmers. The company’s primary aim at that time was to exploit business opportunities by exporting their cauliflowers and artichokes directly to markets in the United Kingdom following its entry into the Common Market (forerunner to the EU).

The company name of Brittany Ferries was adopted in 1974 with the start of passenger sailings between Roscoff and Plymouth. In 1976 the company opened a second route between St Malo and Portsmouth. The expansion of the business continued in 1978 by the opening of two new routes. These were between Cork in Ireland and Roscoff and a new direct route from Plymouth to the Spanish port of Santander.

In 1985 Brittany Ferries joined up with Jersey-based Huelin-Renouf and Mainland Market Deliveries (MMD) to create British Channel Island Ferries (BCIF) with a 27% shareholding. The company operated routes from Poole, Weymouth, Portsmouth to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. In January 1994 it was announced that British Channel Island Ferries had been purchased by Commodore Shipping.

In 1985 Brittany Ferries purchased 100% of the shareholding in Truckline and acquired two vessels plus the freight only route between Cherbourg and Poole. The Truckline brand was retained for the groups freight operations until it was absorbed into the main Brittany Ferries brand in 1998.

On the 6th June 1986 the company launched a new route between Caen (Ouistreham) and Portsmouth. The launch date of the new service was a deliberate choice, coinciding with the anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944. The route was an overnight success and since 1986 the route from Portsmouth to Caen has become the most popular service offered by Brittany Ferries. It regularly carries more than a million passengers every year between the two cities, which represents 38% of all those who travel with the ferry company each year on all of its routes. In June 2016 the route celebrated 30 years of continuous operations.

On the 9th March 2020 it was announced that Condor Ferries had been sold to a consortium which included Brittany Ferries. Columbia Threadneedle European Sustainable Infrastructure Fund (ESIF) and Brittany Ferries (BAI) reached an agreement with Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) for the acquisition of 100 percent of the capital of Condor Ferries.

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