First ferry link between Ireland and Spain
Brittany Ferries will operate two return sailings a week from Cork to Santander in northern Spain.
Ireland and Spain are to be linked by a direct ferry service for the first time.
The sailings will enable firms to bypass the UK when transporting freight between the two countries, which could be particularly useful after Brexit.
There are fears that the UK’s ports could suffer from severe customs queues after it withdraws from the European Union in March next year.
Brittany Ferries will operate two return sailings a week from Cork to Santander in northern Spain from the end of April.
Port of Cork commercial manager captain Michael McCarthy said: “The option for freight carriers to bypass the UK land bridge will be seen as very attractive, as Brexit uncertainty continues.
“We have no doubt that both exporters and importers will make this a viable service.”
Brittany Ferries will charter a ship named Connemara which has capacity for 500 passengers and 195 cars.
The vessel will also deliver an additional weekly return service from Cork to Roscoff in France.
Chief executive Christophe Mathieu said: “Green Spain promises visitors a wealth of opportunities, whether they travel with us from the UK or Ireland.
“However, this new route will also present more options to freight companies operating throughout Ireland, Spain, Portugal and southern France.”
New figures show that the ferry industry is investing more than £1 billion in improvements in the next four years.
Trade body Discover Ferries says the money is being spent on new ships and modernising ports and facilities.