French people keen to restart ferry service stopped by Covid
However, Channel President Jean Morin said Channel Island governments must help facilitate visits by French nationals.
The Department of La Manche is the owner of the Victor Hugo and Granville steamers. The two vessels were operated under contract by Manche-Iles Express until July 2020, when all services were suspended due to Covid-19.
“These links have been interrupted for two years, in particular because of the health crisis, but we are very attached to it,” said Mr. Morin.
“We have terminated the public service contract under which this service previously operated and we have issued a call for tenders.
“We are currently reviewing these offers with a view to reopening the service in April.
“Of course, we will welcome any financial contribution from the Channel Islands, or whatever. This could be to reduce passenger taxes or port charges.
The current contract with Manche-Iles Express ends on December 31.
Mr. Morin also called on the governments of the islands to facilitate visits by French nationals.
“Another issue we raised is the new passport requirement for those who travel and unfortunately many of those trips
are [spontaneous] decisions for people to travel.
‘Some 50 or 60% of those who decide to take a trip [to the Channel Islands] normally don’t have a passport, so if we could decide where French ID cards could be used to travel, we could fill the gap of 50-60% in passenger numbers, ”he said.
“There has been progress in this regard as the Channel Islands have now informed us that for school groups it will be possible for children to travel with a national ID card, but we would be happy to see more new advancements for other travelers who do not yet have passports.
Mr. Morin’s comments were expressed at the annual Normandy-Manche summit.
The summit brought together representatives from Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Normandy, La Manche and the prefecture of Manche.
He focused on the consequences of climate change, Covid-19 and Brexit and its potential impact, including fishing. Held in Jersey this year, the summit aimed to help representatives explore possibilities of working together.
“This is the first of our annual summits since the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement entered into force on 31 December last year,” said MP Jonathan .
Le Tocq, Guernsey’s leader for external relations.
“Although this is the formal agreement between the UK and the EU, our place in this agreement was negotiated with a view to ensuring that we maintain our good neighborly relations with France, in particular the Normandy and the Channel.
“The summit also provides an opportunity to continue to learn more about our approaches to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We look forward to seeing the volume of travel and trade start to grow between the islands and France.
“The Bailliage of Guernsey greatly appreciates the continued engagement and close collaboration with our closest French neighbors and regional partners on a range of subjects. “