The Steam Packet Company carried 13,228 motorcycles and 35,500 passengers to the Island during the 2016 Isle of Man TT.
Ben-my-Chree and fast craft Manannan worked around the clock during the fortnight-long motorcycle racing festival to carry fans to the Isle of Man from Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin, with MV Arrow providing vital freight capacity to free-up Ben-my-Chree vehicle deck space.
As anticipated, final figures were down on the 2015 TT as P&O no longer has fast craft Express available for charter. Motorcycle numbers were down by 6%, although remained ahead of 2014 figures.
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We had previously advised that figures would be down for 2016 as P&O Express is no longer available to charter from Northern Ireland, and Manannan and the Ben-my-Chree had to operate Belfast services this year.
‘Suitable vessels for the ports we serve are simply not available for short-term charter, so we had anticipated this situation and taken steps to mitigate the impact. Substantial investment in a removable mezzanine deck for Manannan created additional capacity to carry more motorcycles. Extra room for visitors and their vehicles was also made available on Ben-my-Chree thanks to the charter of MV Arrow, which took over freight duties. The charter of the Arrow has allowed motorcycle carryings across the fleet to increase by 15%.’
He added: ‘Looking to the future there is strong interest in attending the TT; in the first 10 hours of reservations opening for next year’s event we had completed more than 3,500 bookings.
‘The experience of 2016 highlights the need for self-sufficiency during peak periods. This is something we have addressed in our recent offer to the Isle of Man Government to continue providing lifeline sea services to the Island. In addition to earlier investment in two vessels to replace Ben-my-Chree and Manannan, which would increase like for like TT passenger capacity, we would also retain the Ben to provide the fleet with greater resilience and give additional capacity during the TT and Festival of Motorcycling. This extra capacity is essential to allow the TT event to grow.’
Motorcycles arriving at Douglas, Isle of Man for TT 2016 -Image courtesy of Dave Kneen