Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

104 P&O Ferries is changing. Jon Ingleton met up with Peter Hebblethwaite in advance of the arrival of Pioneer and Liberté to discuss the revitalisation of a heritage ferry business Transforming for a new era P&O Ferries’ Pioneer will serve on the busy route between Dover and Calais With the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and a costof-living crisis changing the way people think about how they want to travel, many are exploring ferries as an option that they might not have considered before. Peter Hebblethwaite, CEO of P&O Ferries, sees the current climate as a unique opportunity for the industry to make headway with a wider passenger demographic. “For the first time in probably 30 years, we are in a sweet spot of some major macroeconomic dynamics for ferry travel,” says Hebblethwaite. “People are reevaluating their lives and the pace at which they live every day. Being in the moment is more important than speed. Being trapped in a plane or a train therefore becomes much less attractive than enjoying the view on an open deck of a ferry before wandering off for some duty-free shopping, a great meal and a show before a good night’s sleep.” To capitalise on this moment of opportunity, P&O Ferries is focused on making its business as competitive as possible and driving significant growth on its more profitable routes. “Our vision started with our HullEuroport route,” says Hebblethwaite. “We’ve taken out layers of discounting to remove the historically lowest prices so we can still offer really good value but with a higher average rate. As a result, it’s now our most profitable route. There’s still so much potential for further growth too – our day-by-day comparisons with 2022 are consistently showing better performances. It’s really rewarding that we now have “ We are a very different P&O Ferries today” INTERVIEW