In a trading update issued on 8th May, Irish Continental Group (ICG) said that for the first four months of this year, consolidated group revenue was €89.3 mill, an increase of 0.4% compared with the same period last year and a 12.7% decrease on 2019.
For banking covenant purposes, pre-IFRS 16 net debt figures were €60.7 mill, compared to €50.0 mill at year end. The increase in net debt is primarily due to maintenance capital expenditure, which is carried out at the beginning of each year.
In the Ferries Division, total revenues recorded up to 30th April amounted to €37.1 mill (including intra-division charter income), a 9.4% decrease on the previous year (28.3% decrease on 2019).
The decrease was principally due to the continued restrictions on non-essential passenger travel imposed by European governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was partially offset by an increase in freight revenues of 5.2% over the same period in 2020 and decreased by 1% versus the same period in 2019.
For the year to 8th May, Irish Ferries carried 15,900 cars, a decrease of 62.5% on the previous year. Freight carryings were 83,500 ro-ro units, a decrease of 18.9% compared with 2020.
Performance against the previous year’s period since the last trading update up to 6th March showed an improving trend, with car carryings and ro-ro freight down 29.8% and 5.3% respectively on the same period in 2020.
The impact of reduced freight liftings was offset by higher revenue yields as more customers used the direct services to the Continent.
Total revenues in the Container and Terminal Division to 30th April amounted to €56.4 mill, an 11.9% increase on the previous year (6% increase on 2019). This increase was driven by greater capacity and higher volumes.
For the year to 8th May, container freight volumes shipped were up 11.4% on the previous year at 125,000 teu achieved through increased load factors and additional capacity.
Units handled at the Dublin and Belfast terminals increased 11.3% year on year to 115,700 lifts. The improvement in volumes versus the corresponding period in 2020 can also be attributed in part to the initial disruption caused by COVID-19 in March/April, 2020.
ICG said that it welcomed the recent comments made by the Irish Government about the reintroduction of unrestricted travel in the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland.
The Group urged the Irish Government to prioritise this against the background of low COVID-19 infection rates and increasing vaccination levels.
It should be noted that during the pandemic, the UK Government has never imposed requirements for testing or quarantine for people travelling from anywhere in Ireland to Britain.
Urgent clarity is needed regarding dates so that ICG can ensure it is ready from an operational perspective.
On 26th March, ICG subsidiary Irish Ferries announced that it would commence a new ferry service on the Dover/Calais route. Plans are significantly advanced with a view to commencing this service this summer.