The Port of Larne has confirmed that there are no plans for job losses and that passenger and freight services have a secure long-term future.
The announcement comes after it was revealed that Larne has lost its position as Northern Ireland’s second-biggest freight port to Warrenpoint.
The statistics, in the Ports Traffic Report, show that in 2013, nine per cent of freight moved through Larne, while 11 per cent moved through Warrenpoint.
Asked if they were concerned at Larne losing its ranking to Warrenpoint, a Port of Larne spokesperson stated: “Not at all, we are focussed on the development of Larne. Although figures may suggest Warrenpoint has become Northern Ireland’s second biggest freight port, it is worth highlighting that they predominantly handle general and bulk cargoes which have seen significant growth in recent years, whereas Port of Larne is primarily a Ro-Ro port for tourist and freight vehicles. We are concentrating on developing and taking full advantage of the excellent facilities and location we have here in Larne.”
The Port of Larne, P&O Ferries and their subcontractors currently employ 132 permanent members of staff. Despite the decrease in freight traffic, the harbour company said there are no plans for job losses. The spokesperson continued: “We have not lost out to Warrenpoint. They have benefitted from the fast growing economy in the Republic of Ireland and their location just north of the border together with the significant growth in bulk cargo shipments during the past few years which has also benefitted Belfast. The Port of Larne does not handle bulk cargo.”
While acknowledging that the A8 roadworks had made it more difficult for lorry drivers to use Larne, the spokesperson said this was temporary and would not impact long term traffic flows. She added that the motorway system would significantly improve journey and travel time, making Larne more attractive for tourists and freight transport.
The spokesperson concluded: “There is a very long term future for freight and passenger services at the Port of Larne. Hence why we have invested £15 million on our route to Cairnryan this year.
“The Port of Larne is a hugely valuable asset for Northern Ireland. It has a highly skilled and committed workforce, excellent facilities and location together with the space to deliver first class services to shipping and marine customers. We are fully committed to develop this asset for the long term benefit of Northern Ireland and our company.”