- CalMac is to stop taking cash on its ferries and ports in response to concerns around the pandemic.
- CalMac ceased its on board food and drink and retail offering on all routes.
- Fares are being temporarily frozen on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network to help island residents and businesses during the outbreak of coronavirus, says Transport Scotland.
Since Friday, 27 March, Color Line’s ropax SUPERSPEED 1 is back in traffic between Kristiansand and Hirtshals. On Monday 16 March, Sailings with SUPERSPEED 1 were temporally stopped because of the C19 measures. A planned drydock was also cancelled. One roundtrip per day will be offered for accompanied cargo, leaving Kristiansand in the afternoon and returning from Hirtshals in the evening.
Corsica Ferries has reduced its services. The main focus is on the lifeline services with Corsica. That is freight, island security and civil security.
Only the following persons are allowed to embark (and they need to have the right paperwork).
- Police services, military on a mission, medical personnel…
- Essential travel for medical reasons
- Essential travel for familial reasons
- Essential professional travel for jobs that cannot be delayed.
All onboard services are closed. Passengers have to stay in their cabin. Embarkation or disembarkation happens without any contact with crew. A doctor is onboard.
Cabins are disinfected every morning.
Passengers get an SMS with preventive information prior to travel.
Eckerö Linjen (Eckerö – Grisslehamn)
Since the Finnish state has decided to extend the state of emergency until 13 May, and as a result of continuing to keep the borders closed, Eckerö Linjen will suspend all traffic with ropax ECKERÖ. At present, the plan is to resume traffic on Thursday 14 May.
- The National Emergency Supply Agency is prepared to spend EUR 45 million on measures to keep the cargo flows alive. The financial aid will be granted in compliance with the EU’s legislation and support mechanisms, and the European Commission will be notified of it by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
- The support arrangement applies to five passenger car ferries operating under the Finnish flag, one ferry operating under the Swedish flag and one ferry operating under the Estonian flag. The ferries operate on the Helsinki–Tallinn, Turku–Stockholm and Vaasa–Umeå routes.
- The ferries operating between Turku and Stockholm also ensure the continuation of cargo transport from the Åland Islands to Finland and Sweden.
- RoRo and RoPax transport to Germany and other parts of Europe is profitable activity that occurs on market terms and does not require support.
Hellenic Coastal Shipping Seeks Financial Support from the European Commission
The Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Finance are having discussions with the European Commission in order to include Greek ferry companies in a financial aid program that will ensure their viability against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The information says that the amount of financial support that each ship will receive has not been clarified yet. However, it is estimated that the very large ships will be subsidized with no less than EUR 40,000 per day, while all the other vessels will approximately receive EUR 30,000.
So far, the latest data coming from the Greek Ship-owners Association for Passenger Ships reveal, that the passenger ferry traffic -in all domestic lines- is expected to be reduced during April-May by 90%, while it is projected that the decline will continue throughout the summer season causing a 50% drop to passengers and 40% to cargo.
Furthermore, it has been estimated that the loss of revenue of the Greek ferry companies will exceed some EUR 290 million in 2020, which means that if the Hellenic Government does not act fast and provide a proper financial support, the sector would “collapse”.
As a result of these, on 27 March 2020 the Minister of Shipping announced the following package of measures in order to support the coastal shipping:
Hellenic Coastal ferry companies will be entitled to the latest relief measures announced by the Greek government. These measures include:
- Suspension of tax and social security contribution payments for Greek coastal ferry companies
- Benefit (EUR 800) for their employees that have been or will be suspended from their employment contracts until 30 April
- Seafarers that were fired from March 1 will also be eligible for the 800-euro benefit
- The unemployment benefit for unemployed seafarers will be extended until May 31
- The winter on board service composition (number of seafarers employed on board) of ferry vessels will be extended until April 30
- High-speed vessels will remain docked until further notice by the Ministry, depending on the course of the pandemic
- Ferries’ certificates validity is extended for another 3 months
- All port fees (PPA) paid by coastal shipping companies will be slashed by 20% until the end of next month. The slash will reach even 50% if the crisis remains.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Shipping is currently in close cooperation with the ministries of finance and Development, to assess the exact compensation of companies affected by the decline in the ferry market due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and launches a specific aid scheme. Moreover, a provision would be tabled in parliament to allow a particular ferry route or routes, belonging to the main and local ferry network, to operate under public service contracts.
Isle of Wight Ferries + Red Funnel + Hovertravel
The UK Government is temporarily suspending competition law to allow ferry operators in the Isle of Wight to work together and maintain a crucial lifeline between the island and the mainland during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Hovertravel has stepped up its operation to be available, on demand and around the clock, to stakeholders who need transport to and from the Isle of Wight. Read here about the “critical on demand service”.
- Red Funnel expects changes in timetable.
- Wightlink is running a reduced timetable with fewer sailings. Freight and essential services for the Island are being prioritised. Lymington-Yarmouth route closed.
MCA: Drivers ‘may’ be able to stay in their vehicles on ferries in exceptional circumstances (UK)
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is to allow drivers on ferry routes to stay in their vehicles in exceptional circumstances to protect frontline services and to keep freight moving.
Operators will need to demonstrate that they have carried out rigorous risk assessments before the MCA gives its agreement.
It means that as long as there are pre-agreed mitigation measures in place, freight drivers will be able to stay with their vehicles on vehicle decks of international and domestic ferries.
Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards and the UK’s Permanent Representative to the IMO said: ‘‘We’re currently working with the flag & port-State administrations of Republic of Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to agree a common solution that will allow a risked- based approach to avoid putting crews at unnecessary risk of exposure to infection that could seriously hamper freight services. We have engaged with other flag and port-State administrations, as above, to initiate the use of the UK/French guidance as a common solution.”
All Molslinjen tickets can be rebooked for a departure at any time, for the rest of the year.
If the ticket is on a departure that is more expensive than the original one, the price difference must be paid.
Northlink Ferries’ website says:
- Ropax and roro ferries are continuing as per published timetable, but web bookings have been suspended.
- Anyone seeking to travel has to book at the port of departure on the day of travel.
- Only allowed are island residents, a key workers or persons travelling to provide medical support to family members.
P&O Ferries Reinforces Freight Operations by Furloughing 1100 Staff onto Government Pay Scheme
P&O Ferries has suspended its passenger business and will be focusing all its efforts on maintaining the flow of freight to Britain.
“With respect to the UK, we bring in about 15% of all the goods that the country currently urgently needs,” says CEO Janette Bell. “The biggest part of which [33%] is food, including fresh fruit and vegetables from southern Europe and North Africa, as well as vital medicines and medical equipment. P&O Ferries is also handling important but hazardous goods such as detergents and cleaning products. Ordinarily, for P&O Ferries to provide the service required for the transport of freight, there needs to be a mix of passengers and cargo on the ships. However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, there are now very few passengers travelling and we cannot sustain these normal operations.”
“This means that 1100 of our P&O’s staff in the passenger services will be furloughed onto the Government’s pay scheme.
For those employees in Britain affected, the Government scheme will cover 80% of their salary and the company will cover the rest up to their basic salary. Other European countries have similar schemes.”
Stena Line Fights to Help Ensure Vital UK & Irish Supply Lines Stay Open
- All of Stena Line’s Irish Sea ferries are continuing to run on schedule, however, some services have restricted passenger numbers in order ensure strict social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
- Recently Stena Line has introduced a large number of additional measures in a bid to help safeguard its passengers and crew during the COVID-19 crisis. They can be read here.
- Tallinn-Helsinki route. MEGASTAR continues to operate on the route according to its normal timetable.
- Tallinn-Vuosaari route. SEA WIND continues to operate on the route according to its regular timetable. Tickets can be booked via Tallink Cargo.
- Paldiski – Kapellskär route. REGAL STAR continues to operate on the route according to its regular timetable. At present also passengers with cars are allowed to travel on this vessel. Tickets can be booked via Tallink Cargo.
- Turku-Stockholm route via Langnäs. BALTIC PRINCESS and GALAXY continue to operate on the route according to their regular timetables. Tickets can be booked via the company’s usual websites.
- Paldiski-Sassnitz route. STAR operates until 18 April 2020 according to the following schedule (Sassnitz – Paldiski: Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Paldiski – Sassnitz: Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays.) Cargo bookings can be made via Tallink Cargo and passenger bookings via Tallink Customer Services +372 6408 929.
Ropax ferry ROSELLA is returning to service, three times a week from Mariehamn to Kapelskär, as a result of an Åland Government invitation to increase freight capacity. The return means some of the recently laid-off staff will return to work
ROSELLA’s reactivation will be paid by the Finnish state. (Huoltovarmuuskeskus = Finland’s National Emergency Supply Agency).