Gov’t to unmoor passenger ferry fees

The government unveiled yesterday a plan aimed at improving the operation of ferry services, which includes the partial deregulation of ticket prices, in the wake of the serious problems that dogged the sector this summer. Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis presented a 10-point plan he hopes will eradicate the hours of delays experienced by ferries in recent months. He failed to clarify, however, when it will be implemented. Among the measures is the freeing of ticket prices at the port of Piraeus from government control, on the condition that at least three ferry operators serve that route and that a large number of passengers use the service. «Under the right conditions, this could mean a reduction in prices and an improvement in services offered,» Kefaloyiannis said. Opposition parties slammed the measure, saying that it will only benefit shipowners. According to industry sources, the partial deregulation will bring local regulations a step closer to EU guidelines. The government is eager to put behind it the scenes of chaos at the country’s ports this summer, one of the best seasons the tourist industry has experienced for a number of years. An estimated 5 million people left Piraeus by ferry from June to August. Among the complaints from passengers was that companies failed to provide any sort of notification when there were delays. Passengers will be informed in the future of their rights and obligations, the ministry said.