Future of Fast Ferries
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Future of Fast Ferries


Future of Fast Ferries

Austal Ships’ Managing Director, Mr. Bob McKinnon presented the keynote speech on the future of fast ferries at Ausmarine 2002, which was recently held in Fremantle, Western Australia. His paper examines the current status of the fast ferry market and Austal’s forecast for renewed activity and areas of growth in the short to long-term future. After a period of low activity within the fast ferry market, there are now signs that the market is on the rebound. Austal forecasts that renewed interest is likely to come from three principal sources: existing fast ferry operators attracted by new technologies; the growth and emergence of new markets; and the use of fast ferry technology in new roles such as military applications.

Mr. McKinnon said that diversification of the customer base would almost certainly result in a more diverse range of fast ferries being delivered over the next few years. This in turn means it is unlikely that there will be any clear trends in terms of vessel size, speed or capacity. Austal believes that these trends have important implications for companies involved in the construction of fast ferries. While new geographic markets are going to be important for the future development of the fast ferry industry, for shipbuilders and suppliers there is also considerable potential for the use of similar technology in other applications, particularly military roles.

In his address, Mr. McKinnon suggested that generating sales from existing fast ferry operators would largely depend on the industry’s ability to develop new vessel technologies offering significant capability improvements in a commercially viable package. “If this can be achieved, we believe it will provide the necessary impetus for existing fast ferry operators to upgrade while at the same time increasing the number of routes on which high speed vessels will be able to operate successfully,” Mr. McKinnon said. This, he said, did not necessarily mean ferries that were bigger or faster or cheaper, but rather a vessel that offers a combination of characteristics that would make it a significant improvement over current tonnage on certain existing or potential routes. “Most importantly, we feel that there is definitely a bright future for fast ferries,” Mr. McKinnon concluded.


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