Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

'Astonishment' after ferry inquiry dropped

Image caption TraveWatch was hoping the OFT report would shed light on travel costs to and from the island

An Isle of Man travel consumer group is "astonished" about the decision to drop an inquiry into ferry freight charges.

TravelWatch was hoping the report would also shed light on the prices for air and sea travel, to and from the island.

Chairman of TravelWatch IOM Brendan O'Friel said freight and passenger charges are connected.

He added: "Freight prices have a direct impact on passenger fares, in some instances freight has been known to subsidise passenger fares."

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said a recent price war between two ferry operators coupled with a change of ownership for the Steam Packet company meant the report was no longer relevant.

The investigation began after a review by the Tynwald Select Committee in 2007.

Peak bookings

The committee judged ferry fares to be "very competitive" but was unable to comment on the freight prices so referred it to the OFT.

Mr O'Freil continued: "We are primarily concerned with last minute and peak time booking prices - passengers tell us these prices can be pretty unreasonable.

"What we are interested in is transparency, and we find the decision to drop the report quite astonishing".

The IOM Steam Packet said: "'In recent years, the Steam Packet Company has experienced a number of protracted investigations into its affairs.

"These have absorbed considerable amounts of the company's resources and diverted attention from the company's principal objectives of providing a reliable and cost-effective service to Manx residents and visitors.

"The company hopes that it can now concentrate its efforts on that task without further diversions."

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