Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

8 9 supported by the unequivocal backing of my current financial backers,” says Utor. “We have responded appropriately to a new shareholding structure, and with the step taken, I reaffirm my total confidence in the Baleària project.” Utor’s bold move came amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and intensifying competition in Baleària’s core Balearic marketplace. Hot on the heels of the takeover of Armas Trasmediterránea’s Balearic operations by Grimaldi Group in April 2021, Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) entered the fray, initially with two Visentini-class ro-pax ferries. But the thriving MSC subsidiary has a big appetite and now operates four ro-pax ferries from the mainland ports of Barcelona and Valencia, respectively. Utor describes the transfer from Armas Trasmediterránea as a new equilibrium in the mature and competitive Balearic Islands market. “One operator has been replaced by another, bringing fresh air and renewed competition,” he says. Yet, the sudden entry of GNV is clearly a thorn in his side. “The arrival of a third operator into a mature market which was already well-served with good vessels, competitive prices and high customer and administration satisfaction has disrupted the Balearic Islands market in an irrational way,” he explains. “The introduction of four vessels with similar, or inferior, characteristics to those provided by existing operators that are already operating on the same timetables, but do not improve the service and represent an increase of 50 per cent of capacity in a single year, is not understandable from any economic or environmental sustainability analysis.” The changed market conditions have clearly kept Baleària on its toes, but the company’s agility will enable it to remain relevant, says Utor. “This new situation has prompted us to maximise our operations, reorganise, accelerate our digitalisation process, make competitive gains and get the best out of all our teams, in order to continue to clearly lead the passenger and cargo market in the Balearic Islands.” Despite GNV’s entry in the Balearic arena, Baleària has retained a market share in excess of 50 per cent in both “ This situation has prompted us to maximise our operations in order to continue to lead the Balearic Islands market” The Dénia maritime station has become a successful model of port terminal management thanks to its modern functionality and excellent passenger services