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Over £8m profit announced by council-owned port

Figures for the port show an £8m profit following a report released on Wednesday 13 March, which looks at how the port performed across the 23/24 financial year and how much it will contribute to the council’s budget.

This information report for the Port’s Cabinet Member provides the first insight of how cross-channel restriction free travel has fared in comparison to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, and the first full year post-Brexit trade trends. It outlines a focus on long-term growth, led by environmental and ethical standards.

Results show that ferry passengers travelling through Portsmouth are bouncing back , with numbers reaching 95% of 2019 records and a strong showing for car passengers. While freight from the EU is 20% down in comparison to four years ago, trade from the Channel Islands has increased due to a third vessel from Condor Ferries.

Competition from low-cost operators who pay crew lower wages is cited as a reason for the downturn in trade, with over-capacity on ferry operators who offer cheaper travel.  However, Portsmouth’s customers Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries, have both signed the UK’s  Seafarers Charter, which ensures crew are paid a reasonable wage comparative with the national minimum wage. In addition a ruling in France on fining ferry operators coming into French ports who don’t pay their crew fairly is due to come into force imminently.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson Cabinet Member responsible for the Port said: “This report is great news for the city. 

“It shows that our council-owned port is performing really well and has weathered the storm of some challenging times. With passenger numbers very close to pre pandemic levels we are optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction. 

“Profit from the port goes directly to the council and £8m will support much-needed local services for all our residents, and helps to continue investing so we can become the greenest port in the UK. As a council service the success of the port has an impact for everyone in our city.

“Our focus is to continue growing in a sustainable way, both ethically and environmentally. We join our partners Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries in supporting the UK’s Seafarers’ Charter, which protects seafarers irrespective of flag or nationality. 

“Using the cost of living crisis to operate a low-cost model is just an excuse, and exploits those who deserve to be paid and treated fairly. 

“The good news is that Portsmouth International Port continues to thrive and the city is benefitting from its growth through profits contributing to the council’s budget.”

Our position has been underpinned by long term agreements with Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries, and significant council investment and government funding.

Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port’s Director said: “We have attracted over £70m of investment over the past few years, which has meant a berth extension to manage larger vessels, a new terminal extension to cope with more passengers and most recently our shore power project, which is set to be a UK first. 

“This report demonstrates that long-term growth centred around environmental and ethical standards is achievable. With France looking to fine ferries that don’t pay their crew fair wages means a fairer operating position for everyone and has the power to address an imbalance in trade. 

“I’m confident that freight levels will increase and the passenger numbers will continue to grow. Ferry travel for freight and passengers is convenient, it’s becoming the leading sustainable choice and through Portsmouth it is a memorable harbour for departure and arrival.”

This information report will be formally heard at the Cabinet Member for Transport meeting on Wednesday 20 March. The report can be found here in advance