Ponte Ferries is finally embarking on its Malta-Sicily route more than three months after cancelling operations that had been scheduled to start on August 6.
Ticket sales for its fast ferry, catamaran service to the port of Augusta open on Thursday after Ponte Ferries received a temporary permit from the Italian authorities, the company said in a statement.
It means customers will have a choice of ferry operators and ports. Currently Virtu Ferries operates a daily service from Valletta to Pozzallo.
Back in August, Ponte Ferries cancelled the start of planned scheduled operations insisting it was prevented from doing so due to last-minute contestations by a competing operator on the use of berthing quays in Augusta.
But documents seen by Times of Malta showed that a temporary permit was issued by the Augusta port authorities on August 11. In spite of this, the operator continued with its cancellation of trips and provided clients with alternatives such as airline flights, refunds and vouchers.
A company spokesperson had said the temporary permit-related “to a possible operational solution discussed in the course of formal ongoing discussions, which, at the time, were not workable from a technical perspective”.
Ponte said on Thursday that this month, a return trip for a driver and private vehicle will cost €99.98, while any accompanying adults can travel one way at €9.99. Children aged 13 and under, as well as pets travel for free, while cyclists can take up their bicycle at no extra charge.
It is also offering special rates for light cargo throughout November.
The service between Wine Wharf quay in Valletta and Augusta will initially operate five trips a week.
“We’re very appreciative of our clients’ patience and understanding during the past weeks and thank all the parties involved for their continuous support and cooperation to give Ponte Ferries the green light to set sail,” a company spokesman said.