Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim Roy Beggs, has expressed his disappointment at the news that the Larne to Troon ferry service, which has operated since 2003, is being discontinued as a result of ongoing losses on the route.
Roy Beggs MLA said:
“There has been concern in Larne for the future of the Troon service since the decision last summer not to renew the charter of the Express ship. It had been hoped that an alternative vessel was being sourced, therefore it is very disappointing to learn that yet another ferry route from the Port of Larne has now been axed.
“With the upgrading of the A8 Larne to Belfast road, the Port of Larne is even more accessible for freight and tourists. I had hoped that this would have enhanced the prospects of the Troon ferry service, which I was aware was at risk. With the advent of low cost flights, there is overcapacity and significant competition on our links to Scotland. Regrettably P&O have taken the decision to cut the loss making Larne to Troon service.
“With P&O owning both the Port of Larne and the Port of Cairnryan and recently investing some £17m in upgrading the Port facility, I am confident that there is a long term future for the Port of Larne. Larne-Cairnryan provides the shortest and most frequent sea crossing between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The European Highlander and European Causeway vessels were purpose built for the route and will be receiving a further half million pounds of improvements over the next 18 months. A further 50 seats are being added to each ship before Easter of this year to assist in improving passenger comfort during peak periods.
“I am pleased that P&O have indicated that the Port of Larne is increasing its non-ferry Port activity and is starting to gain new business. This shows the potential for improved prospects for Larne Harbour.”