Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2020

8 0 COMMENTARY Leading post-pandemic change Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan explains the defiant mood of resilience and recovery among industry leaders as the world awaits a Covid-19 cure MIKE CORRIGAN A Canadian former energy industry executive, Mike Corrigan joined Interferry in 2017 after 14 years in leadership positions with BC Ferries, where he became president and CEO in 2012. W hat does the future hold for the ferry industry as the world confronts and eventually emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic? There is no denying the devastating impact of the crisis, yet in the worst imaginable way, it has somehow presented the glimmer of an opportunity to reinforce our value to society. Please don’t think I am trying to put an unduly positive spin on an unprecedented catastrophe. For much of 2020, the bad news has by far outweighed the good. However, the constantly evolving governmental, scientific and commercial response has encouraged sufficient hope that recovery is at least in sight, albeit in phases and on a potentially long road. The current change in fortunes has been stark. For several years before the pandemic, ferry operators throughout the developed world had enjoyed annual and often record traffic growth, with rising demand being matched by a wave of orders for new ships. When non-essential travel was banned under the Covid-19 lockdown, those ferries still operating were largely limited to lifeline freight services and incurred unsustainable financial losses. Most services were either suspended or run on a reduced scale, so ships were laid up and thousands of sea-going and shore staff were laid off. Sadly, these solutions may often prove to be permanent rather than temporary, and further consolidation of companies, routes and fleets cannot be ruled out. Our crucial community of suppliers was likewise hit by revenue losses and lay-offs as operators signalled a hold on capital expenditure. However, there was eventually a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel when Photo: Provided by BC Ferries Operators such as Canada’s BC Ferries have introduced social distancing measures onboard their vessels to keep passengers safe