According to their spokespersons, companies like Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O, Stena are days away from docking ships as they suffer daily losses understood to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds each due to a collapse in passenger numbers.
P&O –which transports 15 percent of all goods into and out of the UK– is understood to be seeking a £150 million bailout from the taxpayer, and the wider industry is thought to be seeking about £450 million in total.
Traveller numbers on cross-Channel routes have fallen to almost zero because of coronavirus restrictions, meaning each sailing must rely on freight traffic alone – and this is not enough to turn a profit.
Operators are seeking to tap emergency coronavirus state aid funds but say they cannot afford to wait potentially weeks for money to come through and will have to reduce the number of ships in operation unless action is taken soon.
One ferry executive said: “We’ve been running services almost on a moral basis because they carry vital freight. The government is under huge pressure and we don’t want to stress the system but we can’t afford to continue to make losses. We don’t think we are special as an industry and we’re holding out for as long as we can to give the government time, but we can’t keep bleeding money at this rate.”