Liberal Vannin MHK Peter Karran is calling for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate complaints of ‘profiteering’ by air and sea carriers.
But his letter to OFT chairman David Quirk, which also includes the inaccurate claim that new restrictions have been placed on bikes being carried in the back of vans on ferry sailings, has earned him a swift rebuke from the Steam Packet.
In his letter Mr Karran wrote: ‘I feel if this matter is not addressed soon the TT will be adversely affected.’
Steam Packet Company chief executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Mr Karran is simply wrong; there has been no change to our policy regarding motorcycles being carried in vans. A simple phone call or email to us could have established the facts, but at no time has Mr Karran attempted to contact us before making inaccurate claims.’
He said it would have taken only a moment to establish he was wrong before sharing his ill-founded and damaging assertions.
Mr Woodward added: ‘Mr Karran has also charged the OFT with “looking into the level of prices”, which shows a complete lack of understanding of how our fares are already stringently controlled. Our fares are set and approved by government, in advance, every year, ensuring our passengers are protected from any so-called “profiteering”.
‘Mr Karran has asked government to investigate a pricing structure which is set and approved by government; this surely cannot be a good use of time for an MHK or the OFT. Again, Mr Karran could have established the situation by simply speaking to us.
‘Our pricing has been subjected to scrutiny by a Tynwald select committee, which found our passenger fares were “very competitive” with other similar ferry companies, an OFT investigation, and more recently an Irish Sea price comparison exercise conducted by TravelWatch which again demonstrated our passenger fares are genuinely very competitive. Each of these inquiries has established there is no case to answer.
‘It is a great shame Mr Karran decided not to just speak to us about his concerns, rather than requesting an OFT investigation, on nothing more than baseless hearsay.’