Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group has reported a surge in revenues and profits for the six month to the end of June as it saw a gradual return towards pre-Covid travel patterns after the disruption of the last two years.

ICG said its revenues for the first half of 2022 jumped by 85.8% to €263.1m from €141.6m the same time last year.

It also reported a profit before tax of €15.4m compared to a loss before tax of €12.2m in the first half of 2021.

ICG said it carried 214,200 cars on its ferries in the first six months of the year - an increase of 618.8% on the same time last year.

Total passenger carryings came to 894,400, an increase of 573.5% on 2021, which it said reflected a gradual return to normal travel patterns compared to a full six-month period of travel restrictions the same time last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The increase also reflects the impact of six full months of trading on the Dover-Calais route, which started on June 29, 2021, it added.

ICG said that freight carryings in the six month period jumped by 160.6% to 330,200 units, while freight revenues increased 94.3%. These increases also reflect the impact of the Dover-Calais operations.

Irish Ferries started services on the Dover-Calais route initially with one vessel, the Isle of Inishmore. The route is now served by three vessels and ICG now offers up to 30 sailings a day.

ICG Chairman John B McGuckian said the first half of 2022 was one of significant improvement in group performance after the challenging trading environment over the previous two years.

"The gradual return of passenger travel towards more historic patterns and the continuing support of our freight customers together with the new ferry service on Dover-Calais drove HY 2022 revenues to a record level of €263.1m," Mr McGuckian said.

But he added that the company also had to deal with the challenges of cost inflation, particularly energy prices.

He said that on a strategic level, the group continues to invest in its businesses, with over €50m expended on strategic assets in the half year period.

"We continue the expansion and modernisation of our container terminals with the latest automated and environmentally friendly equipment. The improvement in revenue performance has continued to date," he stated.

"However, in the near term, the group is cautious regarding inflation pressures and the associated macro-economic impact together with the challenges in passing cost increases through the logistics chain," he added.

ICG shares moved higher in Dublin trade today.