P&O Ferries has suspended all passenger services on the Dover-Calais route over the weekend of the Easter holidays, causing further disruption to UK travelers.
Two of the eight ships of the besieged ferry company – Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain – are still detained by the Maritime and Coast Guard (MCA) due to safety concerns, leading to a shortage of ferries on a key route on the eve of a busy voyage period.
The company tweeted that it had canceled all crossings of the English Channel over the Easter weekend.
#PODover #POCalais for travel between 15/04 00:01 – 18/04 23:59, we will provide a full refund of your ticket. We will also refund the difference in price between your P&O Ferries ticket and your new booking with another operator. Complaints should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org 2/2
– Updates to P&O Ferries (@POferriesupdate) April 13, 2022
This has contributed to the wider chaos of travel in the UK, where staff shortages have led to flight cancellations and long waits at airports. Rail passengers, meanwhile, have been warned of delays by Network Rail, which is making 530 engineering improvements along routes, including the West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Milton Keynes.
According to AA, 27.6 million car trips can be made over the weekend. Motorcyclists are advised to travel on Thursday or early Saturday if they can to give themselves the best chance of avoiding long queues.
Edmund King, president of AA, said: “All our research shows that Good Friday will be the busiest day to escape for Easter travel and stay. If some drivers can leave on Thursday or early Saturday, they may miss some of the traffic jams. “
As the Ministry of Transport called on holidaymakers to plan ahead and allow extra time to travel, long queues were already forming near Dover Harbor on Thursday morning. Transport Minister Robert Corts said his department “is working closely with operators to minimize disruption.”
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P&O had planned to resume services across the English Channel between Dover and Calais over the Easter weekend, but the MCA said Wednesday it would not release the two ships until the agency made sure they could “meet the requirements of the port state control regime and be safe for removal to the sea ‘.
The agency, which inspected all eight P&O Ferries ships, detained Pride of Kent for the first time on March 28 after a failed inspection and said on Wednesday it had found additional deficiencies after a reassessment.
The Spirit of Britain was detained this week, complicating the company, which has been criticized for firing all 800 of its UK workforce and replacing them with cheaper foreign workers in March.