MyFerryLink is to appeal to the Competition Commission (CC) after the regulator said the owner of the ships, Eurotunnel, should be forced to stop operating between Dover and Calais.
The ferry operator said the route will continue to operate while it appeals to the CC, which could see a change in structure.
Although Eurotunnel owns the ferries, they are operated by MyFerryLink which is owned by an employee shareholder group.
Robin Wilkins, managing director UK at MyFerryLink recently said that although the ferries are owned by Eurotunnel’s GET Group, they have no commercial ties and are seen as a competitor.
“We believe that a solution to the ownership issue can be found in the coming months and that we will remain in the market, albeit with a different structure,” said Wilkins in a statement released today, who was previously confident of a positive outcome to the case.
“Our competitors believe they have more chance of stopping us in the courts than in the marketplace. We offer the best service on the Channel and we believe we should let the customers decide,” he added.
The CC report has claimed Eurotunnel bought the three ex-SeaFrance ships to stop rivals DFDS and LD buying the ships for cross-Channel travel and consequently increasing competition and starting a price war.
It concluded that the continuation of services would give Eurotunnel more than half of the market share on the routes and that prices would rise as a result.
Eurotunnel has now been ordered to sell two of its ferries, although a French court order is currently in place that means the company cannot sell the vessels before 2017.
“It cannot be good for competition when Eurotunnel, which already holds a market share of over 40 per cent, moves into the ferry business—particularly when it did so to stop a competitor from buying the ferries. Customers would lose out from Eurotunnel increasing its share even further and being able to raise prices on the tunnel services,” said Alasdair Smith, chairman of the Eurotunnel/SeaFrance Inquiry Group and CC deputy chairman.
“In view of the current excess capacity on the Dover–Calais route, it also seems likely that one of the current ferry operators will exit in the short term if we don’t take action. Customers will be better off if there are two independent ferry companies competing with the tunnel than if one of the two is owned by Eurotunnel,” he added.