The regional government in Madeira is issuing an international tender for a weekly ferry service between the island’s capital and Portimão.
Madeira is offering a €3 million a year safety blanket for the operating company which will have to provide a cargo and passenger service with a journey time of less than 24-hours.
The financing already has the green light from Brussels with the €2-3 million annual payment beinig set for three years.
The specifications for the service, which already have been released in the island’s local press, require the new operator to carry out at least one weekly sailing directly between Funchal and Portimão at, at least, 21 knots, (39 kmph) with a capacity of 300 passengers.
The specifications of the ferry also are described in detail, almost as if the Madeiran government has a ship in mind, to be maximum of 175 meters in length, with a draft not exceeding 6.5 metres do it can use the port of Funchal in safety.
The new service is to carry vehicles and cargo which will be the core business of the operation.
The idea is to shorten the delivery time of goods between Madeira and the mainland - currently around four days - and to reduce prices.
The last ferry service went: Funchal - Portimão - Las Palmas (Canary Islands), a round trip that made short visits to the island impossible unless returning by air.
The Volcan de Tijarafe ferry schedule was scrapped in January 2012 by the Spanish operating company, Naviera Armas, after three years service.
The reason for the decision, according to the operator, was an increase in landing charges levied by the port authorities in Funchal.
In its last year of service, the Portimão to Funchal route carried 22,000 passengers and 4,500 vehicles.