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Changes to ferry sailings not ruled out

PUBLISHED: 03:00 04 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

FURTHER changes to P&O North Sea Ferries' Felixstowe sailings have not been ruled out - but no decisions have yet been made.

It has been revealed that 14 families took up the option to move from Suffolk to Hull as part of the summertime changes when the firm axed two of its ships.

FURTHER changes to P&O North Sea Ferries' Felixstowe sailings have not been ruled out – but no decisions have yet been made.

It has been revealed that 14 families took up the option to move from Suffolk to Hull as part of the summertime changes when the firm axed two of its ships.

The remainder of the 122 seafarers affected – 74 ratings and 48 officers – were found new jobs elsewhere in the company or took voluntary redundancy.

P&O North Sea Ferries has cut the number of ships operating on its Felixstowe-Europoort services from four to three following falling cargo levels on the route.

The Pride of Suffolk has been sold to P&O's Irish Sea operation, and is currently sailing between Liverpool and Dublin, and the European Tideway is in dock and waiting for a buyer to be found.

The superfreighter Norbank was transferred to Felixstowe from Hull to work with the 16,776-ton Pride of Flanders, which carries 110 trailers, and 21,162-ton European Freeway able to carry 150 trailers.

Rumours are rife that another superfreighter, the Norbay, is to arrive at Felixstowe from Hull later this year – putting more seafarers jobs at risk as another older ship may have to go – but the company says that has not yet been confirmed and is not definite.

Bob Lough, P&O UK director said it was possible the Norbay could transfer to the Suffolk ro-ro operations, "in which case we're probably looking at December"

But he added: "That decision's not been taken; the ship's still at Hull. We've left our options open. It depends on traffic and volumes. If we find we can't cope at Hull we'll leave it up there."

P&O NSF has said that since it took over the Felixstowe operations from P&O European Ferries in 1997, it has seen no growth in cargo volumes.

That year had been the best year when a fire in the Channel Tunnel had forced much more cargo onto sea routes.

In contrast, the first five months of this year, due partly to long-pegged freight rates being increased and driving customers away to competitors, and over capacity on the Continental runs through the Haven Ports volumes have fallen by 11 per cent, leaving too much spare capacity on its Felixstowe route.

WEBLINK: www.ponsffreight.com

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