P&O Ferries carried the highest volume of freight traffic on its Larne-Cairnryan service in six years in 2017.
The ferry and logistics company, which operates the shortest and most frequent crossings between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, carried 210,533 lorries and trailers on its ships during the last 12 months. The figure represents a 1.3 per cent increase on 2016 and is the best result since 2011.
P&O Ferries operates seven sailings a day between Larne and Cairnryan in Scotland. The service - which is operated by the 22,000 ton sister ships European Endeavour and European Causeway - provides a bridge for goods being transported between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and Britain, and also on to the continent via P&O Ferries' connecting services from Dover, Tilbury, Hull and Teesport.
Neal Mernock, P&O Ferries' Sector Director for the Irish Sea, said: "These outstanding volumes illustrate the vital importance of our service to the thousands of businesses and millions of consumers who rely on the efficient and reliable transportation of goods across the Irish Sea."
"Larne is fast establishing itself as the gateway of choice for anyone exporting to or from Ireland, thanks to its outstanding connectivity via road and rail, and also the fact that it is nine miles closer to Scotland than the port at Belfast."
"The reliability of our service was exemplified in the spring when we brought one of our English Channel ferries, European Seaway, to cover the route while the other two ships went into dry dock for annual maintenance. The feedback from our customers was that they hadn't noticed any difference, which is the ultimate compliment."
In 2017 P&O Ferries saw strong volumes of agricultural and dairy produce, building materials, consumer goods, machinery, peat and household coal being transported on its two Irish Sea crossings, Larne-Cairnryan and Liverpool-Dublin.
P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry and logistics company, sailing 27,000 times a year on eight major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium. It operates more than 20 vessels which carry 10 million passengers and 2.2 million freight units annually.
Together with its logistics division, P&O Ferrymasters, the company also operates integrated road and rail links to countries across the continent including Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain and Romania. P&O Ferrymasters also owns a rail terminal in the Romanian city of Oradea, which facilitates the onward movement of goods to Britain from Asian countries via the Silk Road.