Malta-Comino ferry operator will use eco-friendly vessels

Comino Ferries Coop will replace 10 boats with two hybrid vessels, reducing traffic and emissions around the island

Comino eco-ferry design
Comino eco-ferry design

Comino Ferries Coop, the sole bidder for two Comino ferry routes will operate specially-designed eco-ferries that will reduce emissions and traffic around the island.  

“These will be the first hybrid vessels to operate in Maltese waters and are designed using the latest technology. The vessels will operate in fully electric mode when in the vicinity of Comino, Marfa and Cirkewwa – meaning zero emissions and zero noise around the bay areas – and with reduced drag to minimise wake,” Coop spokesperson Mark Bajada said.

Bajada, one of the seven members of the Comino Coop, has been operating a small ferry between the two islands for over 20 years. He said that 10 boats currently used by the coop will be reduced to two since the new vessels will be larger and better equipped to operate this route in a more professional manner.  

On Friday, Transport Malta announced that the contracted service between Malta and Comino was postponed following various concerns the authority had received.

Transport Malta had selected a sole operator to provide the scheduled passenger service between Malta and Comino. The operator was also given priority boarding rights at the quays in Marfa and Ċirkewwa.

Bajada said the Coop was the only operator to bid for the tender issued by Transport Malta last July for a single entity to run the Comino ferry service from Marfa and Cirkewwa, “finally putting an end to the free-for-all situation that has led to countless disputes in and out of court in front of visitors.”

“There has been a lot of misinformation in the media on this issue from operators who decided not to bid for the Transport Malta tender issued last year to provide a scheduled service between two points in Malta – Marfa and Cirkewwa – and Comino, because they want anarchy to reign,” Bajada.

Bajada said that contrary to claims, exclusivity is restricted to departures from Marfa and Cirkewwa, while pick-ups for the purposes of pleasure, fishing or diving are not affected.

Previously boat operators had been informed by letter on 13 January that, following a request for proposals issued last year and the completion of a competitive process, a suitable operator for the provision of Malta-Comino ferry service had been identified. The authority has said it was entering into an agreement with the successful bidder for a period of 15 years starting on 25 January. The chosen operator was also bound to invest in new vessels.

“We decided to invest €5 million of our own money in new ferries and facilities and are now coming under attack for seeking to improve the visitor experience. We ask: would it be fair for us to take all risk and for other operators to operate the same routes without spending a penny? Our livelihood is at stake,” he said. 

Bajada added that the boats are fully air-conditioned, and will be equipped with waste handling faculties, baggage stowage, WIFI and are fully accessible to people with disabilities.