Cross-channel ferry operators are to run £1-a-ticket day trips during peak periods for the first time, in the face of competition from Eurotunnel, says P&O this week.
The schemes, which offer newspaper readers day trips to France for £1, or £10 with car, usually run only in the first quarter of the year – a traditionally slack period. P&O says the scheme is now likely to run all year.
“If there is any dilution in volume of business because of Eurotunnel this will give us a top-up,” says P&O European Ferries marketing director Brian Langford.
P&O runs its scheme through the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard. Its main rival Stena Sealink is running a similar operation.
P&O says its main competitors are rival ferry companies rather than Eurotunnel.
“The market is still growing, and in 1995 to 1996 Eurotunnel might take the growth out of the market and leave the ferry operators with what they were carrying in 1993 to 1994,” says Langford.
The total number of passengers carried from the UK to Europe last year rose 7.3 per cent to 32.2 million, compared with 30 million in 1993, says P&O.
* In a BBC2 documentary tonight (Wednesday, 9pm) on the battle between Eurotunnel and P&O, Langford suggests P&O as a potential buyer of Eurotunnel should the company go under.