Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - B & I Line.

14.

Mr. O'Donnell

asked the Minister for Transport and Power whether the B & I Line have run into financial or other difficulties: and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I am informed by the B & I that, like other transport undertakings, their forward bookings are seriously affected by the present difficulties facing the tourist trade. The bookings for cars and passengers on the company's services in 1972 are down 60 per cent on the comparable figure for 1971. The company estimate that this represents a drop in revenue of over £1 million.

The company are undertaking a critical review of their operations with a view to combating as far as possible this drop in revenue.

Mr. O'Donnell

Would the Minister say whether or not the B & I have considered the possibility of transferring one of their ferry ships to the Le Havre-Rosslare service this year? Would it not be an ideal way of having a service this year between Le Havre and Rosslare?

No. We want to retain the bookings we have made and for that reason the existing car ferry ships operated by B & I are essential for the coming season. We hope to get back into a strong tourist position once our present troubles in the north-eastern counties are over. As regards the Rosslare-Le Havre service, as the Deputy is aware from a question which was replied to last week we have made firm arrangements for next year in regard to this matter.

Mr. O'Donnell

What about this year?

It would disturb the existing situation.