After a comprehensive review of its options, P&O Ferries has decided to close its loss-making Larne-Troon route with immediate effect, but the company has also confirmed it will continue to operate its full Larne-Cairnryan route services throughout 2016 and into the future.
P&O Ferries has operated this additional seasonal route since 2003, but say ‘the stark reality is that the company is continuing to make losses, and sadly the income from ticket sales is not sufficient to cover the annual vessel and port operating costs.’
In a final attempt to make the route economic the company reduced the service in the off-peak months last year, whilst maintaining the full service in the peak months of July and August. Whilst this measure did significantly reduce the operating costs, the route remained loss-making.
Since the last sailing at the end of September P&O Ferries has continued to negotiate with a number of suppliers and other organisations including the search for a lower cost chartered fast-craft to be able to continue but we have been unable to develop a solution for the company.
There will be no redundancies, with all permanent staff being found alternative roles within the company. For customers, the company has confirmed that in 2016 the P&O Larne-Cairnryan service will continue to operate up to seven sailings each way every day of the year, maintaining its reliable service for freight, tourist and domestic customers, on what is still the shortest and most frequent crossing between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The purpose-built European Highlander and European Causeway vessels will also be undergoing £500,000 of on-board improvements over the next 18 months, and before Easter this year will be adding over 50 seats to each ship, as well as upgrading or updating a number of the passenger areas and facilities, including the provision of ‘Free Wi-Fi that Works’, and using more locally sourced produce and recipes for the food courts.
The company believes that this decision will enable a more secure future for its employees and for its customers on the Northern Corridor.