The parent company of CalMac Ferries Ltd made a loss of £2.7 million in the 2014-15 financial year - despite receiving a significantly bigger subsidy from government.
The annual report and accounts of the David MacBrayne Group Ltd (DML) report an operating loss of £2.724 million for the year, compared to a £200,000 profit in 2013-14.
Group revenues are up to £172m from £154m and gross profit is up £5m to £20m.
Subsidy, however, jumped from £93.6m to £108.78m over the same period - and included an unspecified ‘amount related to road equivalent tariff’ - while the group also returned a smaller sum to the Scottish Government in efficiency savings.
DML Group chairman David McGibbon said: “The company continues to grow revenues but several factors have led to increased costs last year.
“These are mainly down to increased investment in developing new technology to improve the customer experience, through more flexible online ticketing and the digital platforms required to make this happen.”
The state-owned DML Group’s other wholly-owned subsidiaries are Argyll Ferries Ltd, operators of the subsidised passenger-only service between Gourock and Dunoon, and David MacBrayne HR (UK) Ltd.
The company has also formed a joint venture, Solent Gateway Ltd, to run the Marchwood military port in Hampshire, in partnership with GBA (Holdings) Ltd - a bid whose success was confirmed earlier this month after a legal challenge from a rival bidder failed.
CFL is currently competing against Serco Caledonian Ferries Ltd for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract, due to start in October 2016 and to run for up to eight years.
The report states, unsurprisingly, that while DML is confident it is best placed to win the contract, failure to do so “would have a dramatic impact on the Group”.
The winning bid won’t be announced until after next May’s Scottish Parliament election.