The User Agreement, approved by Tynwald, has proved highly successful for the Isle of Man. The stability which the User Agreement has provided has enabled the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to invest with confidence, leading to enormous improvements in services since its introduction.
The Select Committee has confirmed that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is 100% compliant with the User Agreement. The Committee’s report also confirms that passenger fares are very competitive, indeed, significantly cheaper than comparable routes, and confirms no differential in fares to or from the Isle of Man. In addition, the report confirms service quality also comparable to alternative routes, and includes details on huge service improvements seen since 1995 – passenger services to Heysham have doubled and Liverpool services have trebled.
The UK economy has grown strongly over that period, but over the past 13 years most UK ferry operators’ traffic has declined, typically by 30%. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company investment in craft, services and competitive fares has, in contrast, helped stimulate growth of around 50%.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has always acknowledged that its freight charges may be higher than some volume carriers. This is due to a combination of low traffic volume, low vessel utilisation, high port dues and crew costs, and the obligation under the User Agreement to provide many loss-making services. However, Isle of Man rates are less than Channel Islands standard rates, which we believe is a more fair comparison.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will work with the Department of Transport with regard to any report recommendations.
Robert Quayle, Chairman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said, “The User Agreement has brought enormous benefits to the Isle of Man and we are encouraged that the Select Committee recognises that we are fully compliant with it and that passenger fares remain very competitive.