The businessman behind a planned new ferry service to the Isle of Man has rejected criticism from the transport union RMT over crew pay and conditions.
Captain Kurt Buchholz says he's committed to employing Manx-based seamen on his freight service between Douglas and Heysham, due to launch next spring.
And despite concerns that Ellan Vannin Line would use a flag of convenience ship, he says the aim is to register the vessel in the Isle of Man and proudly fly the Manx flag.
A strongly-worded statement from the RMT pledges support for a fight alongside its sister union Nautilus and the local community, over what it calls a renewed threat to lifeline Isle of Man ferry services.
The union accuses Ellan Vannin Line of seeking to destabilise the Steam Packet operation, suggesting a rival service would be based on low cost foreign crews, employed on inferior terms and conditions.
But chief executive of Sea Alliance Ltd Kurt Buchholz who's set-up Ellan Vannin Line, says the firm's clear it wants to employ Manx people and plans a career programme for local youngsters.
Capt Buchholz says the RMT's broadside suggests its members employed by the Packet are increasingly concerned at the prospect of competition.