No redundancies amongst permanent staff as the loss making Larne to Troon service is axed.
P&O today finally announced that the seasonal Larne to Troon ferry service has been closed with immediate effect. This follows the decision last year not to renew the charter of the routes vessel, the InCat catamaran HSC Express, which was subsequently sold by her South American owners to Swedish interests for operation to Gotland. It is also understood that the contract with ABP for the use of the Port of Troon expires this June. Whilst there will be no redundancies as a result of the closure, NIFS understand however that the majority of the staff were seasonal meaning they no longer have jobs for the next year.
In a statement released this morning, the ferry company said:
“P&O Ferries has proudly operated this additional seasonal route since 2003, but the stark reality is that the company is continuing to make significant losses, and sadly the income from ticket sales is not sufficient to cover the annual vessel and port operating costs”
“In a final attempt to make the route economic the company reduced the service in the off-peak months last year, whilst maintaining the full service in the peak months of July and August.
“Whilst this measure did significantly reduce the operating costs, the route remained loss-making.”
"Since the last sailing at the end of September, P&O Ferries has continued to negotiate with a number of suppliers and other organisations, including the search for a lower cost chartered fast-craft to be able to continue, but we have been unable to develop a solution for the company.
"There will be no redundancies, with all permanent staff being found alternative roles within the company."
The company also stated that the year-round Larne to Cairnryan service would continue to operate with 7 sailings per day "throughout 2016 and into the future". The statement concluded:
“The company believes that this decision will enable a more secure future for its employees and for its customers on the northern corridor,”
NIFS understand that previous customers of the route have been emailed a 20% off discount code to try the Larne to Cairnryan route alternative. The email also states improvements to the Cairnryan service will be made this year such as "more locally sourced produce and recipes for the food court", "more comfortable seating areas", "a media lounge to relax and catch up on the news", and "more fun in the kids area". The company have said some £500,000 has been invested in improving the Cairnryan route. The Larne to Cairnryan service is operated by the purpose built conventional ferries European Causeway and European Highlander.
The Larne times covers the announcement in more detail here.
Title image: P&O's Express pictured leaving Larne on Easter Monday 2015 during her final year in service. Copyright © Gary Andrews.