Irish Continental Group said its group revenue for the 10 months to the end of October rose by 21.9% to €279.7m as Covid-19 travel restrictions eased.

But the Irish Ferries owner said this increase was partially offset by a rise in costs - mainly fuel - which soared by 60% from 2020 due to increased sailings and higher global prices.

In a trading update, ICG said its Ferries Division has seen improved trading conditions in its passenger business after the easing of travel restrictions across the EU in July with the introduction of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

It also noted that Brexit was negatively impacting freight volumes but positively impacting freight revenue as more freight customers take the longer direct route to France.

Total revenues in the ferries division rose by 24% to €144.5m.

ICG said the impact of Covid related restrictions had a significant impact on passenger traffic with car volumes year to date on a like for like basis (excluding Dover Calais) down 61% compared with 2019.

But it added that "reassuringly" the easing of restrictions saw car volumes from August 22 to November 20 fall by only 22% compared with the same time in 2019.

ICG said that car volumes in the 10 months to November 20 rose by 33.4% to 176,500 from 122,300 the same time last year.

Its Container and Terminal Division also continued to perform strongly, and in the year to 20 November container shipments rose 10.5%.

Total revenue in the division came to €146.5m, an increase of 20.8% on the previous year. But this was partially offset by increased fuel and supply chain costs.

ICG also said today that it has agreed a deal to buy the ro-pax ferry Ciudad de Mahon from Trasmed GLE. The vessel will serve the Dover-Calais route operated by Irish Ferries after dry docking and branding changes.

The company started services on the Dover Calais route in June of this year with the Isle of Inishmore.

The Isle of Innisfree vessel was delivered to the group earlier this month and is currently undergoing drydocking. It is expected to commence services on the route during December.

The Ciudad de Mahon is expected to commence services in the first quarter of 2022.

ICG said the introduction of these two vessels, representing a total investment of €35.5m, alongside the Isle of Inishmore completes its previously announced plan to introduce three vessels on the Dover-Calais route.

This will allow Irish Ferries to offer up to 30 sailings per day on the route with sailings in each direction about every 90 minutes.