The Brittany Ferries Cork to Santander route has been replaced by a route from Rosslare to Bilbao, as the key freight route to Europe.
The company has said the change is in response to demand from Irish and continental hauliers. The first sailing is due to take place on February 28.
Brittany Ferries have, however, confirmed their ongoing commitment to the Cork to Roscoff route, which will continue to be a primary tourism route.
The decision comes following detailed discussions between the company and the Ports of Cork and Rosslare.
“This was not a decision we took lightly and follows extensive consultation with our freight customers who sought better road connections and reduced driving distances,” Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO, said.
“We opened the route in 2018 with a two-year trial window. While passenger numbers have been encouraging, the reality is that freight numbers, which are key to route viability, were not sufficiently robust.
“However I want to make it clear that we remain committed to Cork, with our flagship Pont-Aven cruise-ferry service to Roscoff. We’re also committed to an Ireland-Spain route, now via Rosslare, and we’ll look after existing passengers whose future travel will be affected by this change,” he added.
Customers already booked on affected sailings from Cork will be given the option to transfer their booking to sailing between Rosslare and Bilbao/Roscoff and an allowance will be given to cover additional transfers.
Alternatively, a full refund will be provided to those who choose to cancel.
The Cork-Santander route which was launched in 2018 was primarily aimed at the freight market into Europe although it also carried holidaymakers. The new route out of Rosslare will be similar.
Brittany Ferries have said that Rosslare is a preferred option among hauliers, with its proximity to Dublin and the east coast road network. Hauliers operating on the European mainland have said that Bilbao is more attuned to freight traffic and has easier transport links into Europe.