Blue Star stirs waters by not upping fares

All coastal shipping companies are on alert ahead of the summer season, jostling for a better market share especially in the Aegean, which significantly affects their financial results. The high cost of fuel has particularly hit high-speed vessels, accounting for up to 70 percent of each ship’s total running expenses. But just as companies were considering a possible fare rise, Blue Star Ferries announced on Monday it would not raise its rates for the whole of the summer. This predictably triggered a favorable response from travel agents and passengers, but strong criticism from rival shipping companies. «Blue Star’s decision is in the right direction and we believe that other coastal shipping companies will follow due to the competition among them,» said the president of the Panhellenic Association of Shipping Agents, Yiannis Theologitis. Representatives of the Passengers’ Association said that «fares were already high and if they rose further no one would be able to travel. Not raising the fares was the right decision and we hope other companies will follow.» Yet sources from other firms reacted by accusing Blue Star of «playing strange games which jeopardize the survival and future of most companies.»