(Press release) P&O Ferries takes further action to keep business operating

By: Steven Tarbox
P&O Ferries EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY leaves Larne for Cairnryan on April 25th 2019. Copyright © Steven Tarbox.
P&O Ferries EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY leaves Larne for Cairnryan on April 25th 2019. Copyright © Steven Tarbox.

P&O FERRIES has today (Thurs) announced further changes to its operation to ensure the business remains strong through the Covid-19 crisis.
The firm announced that it would lay up four ships and furlough around another 300 employees following the 1,100 that were furloughed in March. P&O’s operations are vital to the people and economy of the UK and the firm’s ships bring in about 15% of all the goods that the country uses, including large volumes of food and medical supplies. The company has been looking to find around £250 million in funding to ensure it can come through the current crisis, through cutting costs and support from the UK government, trades unions and its shareholder.

Janette Bell, Chief Executive Officer of P&O Ferries, said: “Given the current crisis, we are having to make some tough decisions to keep the business strong.

“In March, we suspended our passenger business and furloughed 1,100 employees, to focus on maintaining the flow of freight to and from Britain.

“Like other operators, we have been waiting for the UK government’s advice on what support they can give the industry, as well as what conditions they might want to apply on things like routes and supply lines.

“However, we’ve had nothing so far and we can’t wait, as the pressure on the business continues, so we have to act.

“Today we are announcing further changes to reshape our business to survive this crisis and be ready to thrive in the future.

“These changes include the laying up and redeployment of ships on our routes and we expect to furlough around 300 more of our people onto government schemes.

“Despite these changes, P&O Ferries remains critical to maintaining the UK’s supplies and a vital part of our ability as a country to respond to the ongoing threat of Covid-19.

“We are committed to delivering a healthy and sustainable P&O Ferries that will become an even more important strategic asset for the UK, helping families and freight move easily and affordably between Britain, Ireland and Europe.”

P&O Ferries' SPIRIT OF BRITAIN. Copyright © Gary Andrews.
P&O Ferries’ SPIRIT OF BRITAIN. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

P&O’s business model requires a mixture of passengers and freight on the ships, but the Covid-19 outbreak caused passenger numbers to collapse, leading the firm to come under pressure.
The firm has asked the UK government for £150m of support for its operations, but the problem is too big for any one party to solve on its own, so is had been working hard to secure support from its shareholder DP World and unions, totalling £257.5m, to safeguard jobs and the viability of the business.

Notes to editors:
Today, P&O Ferries is announcing the laying up and/or redeployment of the following ships:
• On Dover-Calais, run two ships and will have laid up the other four.
• On Hull-Europoort, there is no change.
• On Hull-Zeebrugge, lay up two cruise-ferries and continue to run a freight service.
• On Larne-Cairnryan, lay up one ship and run a one ship services.
• On Liverpool-Dublin, there is no change.
• On Tilbury-Zeebrugge, run a one-ship service from the new river berth.

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