Ferry prices are set to rise

Ferry ticket prices are likely to increase by at least 8 percent as of next Friday due to a European Union directive that requires companies to switch to a more environmentally friendly fuel, an industry source said yesterday. The EU directive requires ships to use a fuel type that contains less sulfur and helps protect the environment by emitting fewer fumes. A source told Kathimerini that the new fuel will increase operating costs by at least 20 percent and that a part of this will be passed on to passengers in fare increases. This potential increase in ferry tickets comes shortly after a series of price hikes on consumer goods last week that are already putting further upward pressure on inflation. Finance Ministry tax hikes on cigarettes and monthly mobile phone charges of more than 300 percent will hurt consumer spending power, while household power charges will also jump by up to 6.5 percent. Shipowners are likely to ask for an extension to apply the EU directive on the grounds that petrol companies do not yet have the facilities to provide them with the fuel. «If the petrol refineries do not have the ability to meet demand for the fuel then it would be better to extend the time period to implement the directive in order to find a solution to the problem,» the source said. Shipowners are also accusing the government of applying double standards as it has not yet implemented another EU directive which requires engines – used on land – to run on a similar fuel. «I don’t think we need two yardsticks for the implementation of certain directives. It is unfortunate that shipping is targeted even in cases where the problem that arises is insignificant in comparison with the operation of land engines that are near populated areas,» the source added. Meanwhile, workers in the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) will strike on two routes scheduled to take place today in protest at poor work conditions they say infringe on the safety of the ferries. GA Ferries’ Dimitroula ship, scheduled to travel from Athens to Milos, will not sail, while the Thessaloniki ferry boat, operated by NEL Lines, which links Athens with the northern Greek city, has also been called off.

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