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Published on Monday, April 6, 2020

Ferry companies ask Government for aid package to keep services running






Ferry companies are asking the Government for financial support to keep freight services running following a sharp drop in passenger demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The UK Chamber of Shipping claims that services, which are responsible for bringing in 50% of the UK's food, are just days away from being severely reduced.


The trade body says ferry companies including P&O, Brittany Ferries and Stena, need income from passengers to stay profitable. 


It said it was cheaper for operators to stop their services than to keep running ferries at a loss and a number have already reduced services following the loss of passenger income.


The UK Chamber of Shipping has warned if businesses severely cut back services, then supplies of food, medical equipment and other imported goods would be put at risk.


The Department for Transport told the BBC it will 'continue to engage with companies'.


P&O Ferries, which carries around 15% of the UK's imported goods, including food and medicines, is suspending its passenger business and furloughing more than 1,000 staff under the government's job retention scheme.


P&O Ferries told the BBC that it needs £257 million to keep going, £150 million of which it wants from the Government, according to the BBC.


Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, told the broadcaster: "What we're asking for is not a wholesale bailout, it's for the government to share and underwrite some of the risk and the costs to allow the ferry companies to continue providing that vital, lifeline service to the country."

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