Freight traffic up for David MacBrayne Group
Ferry operator David MacBrayne Group has reported a healthy rise in freight traffic but flat car and passenger numbers on most routes.
The operators said freight rose by 5% on Clyde and Hebrides services and by 4% on Northern Isles routes last year.
CalMac services saw passenger and car figures both fall slightly, compared with the previous year.
On NorthLink services, passenger numbers grew by 1%, while cars were down by 3%.
In its annual report, the group said it carried a total of 5.5 million passengers, 1.2 million cars and 1.4 million metres of freight.
Group chairman Peter Timms said the rise in freight figures, especially in the current economic climate, demonstrated how much freight traffic had become "the backbone of our lifeline services".
The report said both of the group's main operating companies - CalMac Ferries and NorthLink Ferries - had "performed satisfactorily", with both achieving levels at or close to 100% for punctuality and reliability, "after weather and other causes of disruptions were taken into account".
Revenue from fares and other sources reached £82.6m, while operating costs at £176.7m were largely in line with the company's expectations.
The group recorded an operating profit of £3.2m, although a technical adjustment resulting from the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards resulted in a pre-tax loss of £0.9m.
Mr Timms said: "2010-2011 was a good year with several highlights including the completion of MV Finlaggan - our first new vessel in four years - winning the Gourock-Dunoon tender, and both operating companies receiving prestigious awards."
CalMac was named Best Ferry Company for both 2010 and 2011 in the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards.
During the year, grants received from the Scottish government rose by 2.7% to £97.3m.
Mr Timms said increased fuel and vessel chartering costs were the main reasons for the increase.