Passenger services director for P&O Ferries, Simon Johnson, becomes the nineteenth chairman of the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) at the organisation’s annual general meeting being held today at the Chamber of Shipping in London.
Simon takes on the role at a time when both the ferry and cruise industries are pulling together to face economic and legislative challenges. More than 39 million passengers travelled by ferry to and from UK ports in 2011 and a record 1.7 million British people took a cruise. The UK is the second largest source market for cruise holidays worldwide and figures released in Brussels last week show that the cruise industry alone accounts for 2.28 billion pounds of direct expenditure in the UK and provides employment for more than 63,000 people.
On taking up his position Simon said: “Both the ferry and cruise industries are very important to the UK economy. We work well together to ensure best practice and both sectors have invested heavily in ships and services, but we face major new challenges ahead. Let me give you one example - sulphur regulations coming into force in 2015 will lead to substantial increases in shipping fuel costs – potentially up to 87 per cent for ships operating within Emission Control Areas (ECAs). The ferry industry could see the closure of longer routes and the cruise industry may see itineraries curtailed, affecting revenue and visitors in ports. Together with our partners, I can confirm that the PSA will continue to seek government support in finding measures to alleviate the substantial financial effects for passenger services that are confined to operating within an ECA. ’
He continued: ‘The PSA’s cruise line members and ferry operators together bring a wealth of experience and knowledge which has enabled the PSA to work successfully on common issues. More new ships are coming on stream and being deployed to the UK over the next year as testament to the confidence we have in demand for travel by sea and river. As the new Chair, I look forward to being actively involved in all areas of the Association and promoting every aspect of passenger shipping.’
Director of the PSA, Bill Gibbons said: ‘Simon takes over the position from Peter Shanks, MD and President of Cunard Line, whose two year term has now come to an end. I would like to thank Peter for his support and leadership during what have been unprecedented times for Association.”
He continued: ‘As former chair of the Ferry Section, Simon is well versed with the work undertaken by the PSA. He takes on the chair at a key time which also sees the Association playing a pivotal role within the new Passengers Rights legislation. Coming into force in December the PSA shall, following consultation and confirmation become the complaints handling body for any disputes arising out of the legislation. The PSA is also actively engaged with the Government on the performance of its UK Border Agency where delays on entering the country may deter people from travelling.”
Christophe Mathieu, Group Strategy and Commercial Director for Brittany Ferries, takes on the role of chair of the PSA’s Ferry Section. Former chair of the PSA, President of Cunard Peter Shanks, takes on the role as Vice Chairman.