・As speeds routinely exceed 40 knots, fast ferries become more competitive with road and some forms of rail transport, for example on straight coastal routes;
・Series production will increase, leading to standardised designs, which allow for small but limited customisation;
・Seaworthiness factors will mitigate against mono hull designs, and work in favour of the Australian builders of catamarans;
・Given America's experience with series production, the United States has the capacity to be a major supplier in this market;
・The market seems increasingly likely to be dominated by Australian-domiciled, if not owned companies, such as Austal Ships, WaveMaster International, Oceanfast Limited and Incat Australia with some significant competition from Norway, Korea, China and Italy.
The worldwide ferry market is undergoing change. There is considerable downward pressure on second hand ferry market prices, which have dropped some 15-30 per cent and could fall further. This is very serious for established operators where a major part of their equity is tied to the value of vessels and goodwill accumulated over the years.
Traditionally, second hand ferries have been sold to the South East Asian, Mediterranean and African markets, but these markets are disappearing. The Greek market, historically a consumer of second hand tonnage, is moving to faster speeds. Two conventional fast mono hull Roll-on Roll-off vessels were delivered to Attica Enterprises in 1995 and two even faster vessels are on order from Kvaerner Masa-Yards.
The expanding south and south east Asian markets are now absorbing increased numbers of second hand vessels, however the Philippine and Indonesian markets are introducing new vessels where in the past they have normally purchased aging second hand tonnage from Europe or Japan.
Few orders are being placed for conventional ferries. For example, in 1995, orders were placed for specialist Roll-on Passenger vessels for German TT-Line Ships from Finnyards, superfast ships for Greece and two 199 metre passenger/car ferries from Ishikawjima Harima for Japan domestic operations.
Fast ferries are being treated, for environmental purposes, on a par with conventional vessels, now that issues of wake, ground wave, nitrous oxide emissions, and smoke and noise pollution have been addressed. A considerable amount of work has been done by engine and exhaust manufacturers and operators to improve their designs and operators' set procedures.
Shipbuilders are forming alliances to capture niche markets and capitalise on economies of scale. Some have established joint ventures with east Asia or Mediterranean shipyards, or have set up subsidiaries in those regions to capitalise on lower production costs, particularly labour.
LEGAL AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS
Regulatory influences have a significant impact on industry structural changes, affecting such key variables as profitability and competitive practices. Factors to consider include:
・Government subsidies provided either directly to shipyards, ship operators or suppliers. This can create a situation where home markets remain elusive for outside competitors;