P&O and Eurotunnel do battle

CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

AND RUSSELL HOTTEN

The number of cars using the Channel tunnel went up 30 per cent compared with July, spurring Eurotunnel into a war of words with its largest competitor, P&O European Ferries.

Eurotunnel claimed that it had become the market leader on the Dover/Folkestone- Calais route but last night this appeared to have been refuted by the ferry operator.

Bill Mackenzie, Eurotunnel's acting commercial director, said the figure of 143,577 cars going through the tunnel in August represented a 39 per cent share of the cross-Channel car market on this route.

However, P&O had issued figures on Friday showing that it had taken 176,590 cars last month on that route. Even without including coaches, caravans, campers and trailers, all excluded by Eurotunnel as they have not fully developed these services, P&O appears to have considerably outperformed Eurotunnel.

P&O's spokesman, Ian Todd, said: "Eurotunnel's figures for our performance are inaccurate because they obtained them by standing on the cliffs at Dover counting cars. That's a ridiculous way of going about it."

He said that counting all vehicles, Eurotunnel obtained just under 30 per cent share of the tourist market, while P&O had about 37 per cent. The other two ferry operators, Stena and Snat, shared about 26 per cent, with Hoverspeed obtaining the rest.

Overall, Mr Todd estimated the August market had grown about 15 per cent and P&O had shown a 9 per cent fall on last year's August figure because of competition from the tunnel.

The war of words overshadowed Eurotunnel's genuinely impressive performance. However, until next month when it issues financial figures for the summer quarter, the extent to which it has bought its market share through discounting will not be known.

On freight, even Eurotunnel's competitors admitted that its figure of 36,517, a very small dip of 1.6 per cent on July, was a strong performance in a traditionally poor month. Eurotunnel said it had achieved a 49 per cent share of the Dover/Folke- stone-Calais lorry market.

The fierce competition for cross-Channel traffic was increased still further yesterday when ferry operator Stena Sealink announced expansion plans that would create 600 jobs.

The company said from next year it was boosting its three-strong Dover- Calais fleet with a new 2,300-passenger superferry. The 28,727-tonne Stena Jutlandica, would be the biggest ship ever to sail the Straits of Dover.

Channel tunnel services have also hit the airlines, with an estimated 13 per cent decline in the number of passengers flying routes from Heathrow to Paris and Brussels in the first six months of 1995. The figure comes from British Midland, the UK's second-biggest operator, which said it did not expect airlines to feel the full impact of rail services until next year.

Although the company said its own share of these routes fell only1.6 per cent in the first half, Austin Reid, managing director, said: "I do not think you have to be a detective to realise that this means somebody, somewhere, is hurting."

Air Liberte, the French airline, announced on Monday that it was halting flights between Paris's Orly airport and Gatwick because competition from Eurostar made the service uneconomic.

Yesterday, British Midland announced plans to open a service from Heathrow to Zurich from 29 October. It said it would match British Airways' four services a day on the route, one service less than Swissair.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Membership Manager

£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Guru Careers: Associate Director

£50 - 80k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Associate Director for the Markets ...

Guru Careers: Associate Director / Director of Sound Practices

£60 - 100k: Guru Careers: Our client is looking for an Associate Director of S...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks