Eurotunnel-affiliated ferry operator MyFerryLink has been given leave to continue operating in the Dover Strait after a new about-turn in its battle with the British competition authorities.
The Court of Appeal in London this morning upheld an appeal against a UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ban on the company using the port of Dover.
The ban had been due to take effect in early July but today the CMA said it would study the appeal court judgment carefully before deciding how to react.
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Eurotunnel, which markets MyFerryLink’s services and owns the company’s three car ferries, has put the vessels up for sale. It told IHS Maritime, however, that it would wait to see if the CMA appealed against the appeal court’s decision before deciding what action if any to take on its own account.
Company representative John Keefe said he believed the CMA had up to three weeks to decide and that, in the meantime, the company was continuing to sift through the “several offers” it had received for the MyFerryLink vessels.
“The decision in itself does not change anything for us,” he said, recalling that the appeal was lodged by the employee co-operative, SCOP SeaFrance, which provides the crews for the MyFerryLink vessels.
SCOP SeaFrance told IHS Maritime it viewed this morning’s decision by the appeal court as “a historic victory”. It comes, however, at a time when the co-operative is riven by an internal battle between its executive and supervisory boards over MyFerryLink’s future.
The supervisory board, which has announced that SCOP SeaFrance will bid for the MyFerryLink vessels and is believed to be looking for local authority help to do this, recently ousted the executive board, which was opposed to its plan.
French transport secretary Alain Vidalies nevertheless hailed the appeal court decision, saying it allowed MyFerryLink and SCOP SeaFrance to continue operating between Calais and Dover.
“It is excellent news for the shipping operation under French flag and for jobs in Calais,” he said.