COVID-19 cuts Continental Passenger numbers by 47%

17 Apr 2020

Over 400,000 passenger journeys lost to COVID-19 on Continental ferry routes

IRN Research has just published their latest data on the passenger ferry market, with data for March 2020, the month in which the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lockdown of the UK economy and society. In response, ferry companies have rescheduled sailings, cancelled some sailings altogether and impose restrictions, such as limiting travel to only essential journeys and banning foot passengers on ferries.

The headline findings from the report are that Continental passenger journeys were down by 447,000 compared with what would have been expected in a March without COVID-19, representing a 47% decline.

Also badly affected, but to a lesser degree, were passenger journeys between the UK and Ireland, which were down by 88,000, or 33%.

Domestic journeys were also down. Because actual March data for Scotland and the Channel Island are not available, the domestic analysis is restricted to journeys to and from the Isle of Man and Isle of Wight. These journeys were down by 243,000 or 41%.


How the impact of COVID-19 was estimated

Because of seasonal variations in the data and the underlying trend in ferry traffic, comparing actual traffic in March 2020 to March 2019, does not give an accurate picture of how COVID-19 impacted on passenger traffic.  For example, the underlying trend in passenger journey numbers has been downwards recently, so part of any decline in traffic between March 2020 and March 2019 will be due to this underlying trend and not to the virus.

The document below setting out our findings explains in detail how IRN adjusted for the seasonality and trend to get a view of the impact of COVID-19.

The Impact of COVID-19. Download the document



The above data is based on IRN’s March Ferrystat report shows. Ferrystat data is based on monthly returns of all leading UK ferry operators and provides a monthly digest of passenger, car and coach traffic by route for the UK-Continental (Short sea, North Sea and Western Channel), UK-Ireland (Northern, Central and Southern) and Domestic (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Scotland) routes. It also covers traffic from Ireland to the Continent (France and Spain). Data is shown for each ferry service.  It also includes annual data for the past seven years by sector.



IRN Team

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