P&O Ferries has suspended all sailings ahead of a “major announcement”, which it said will be made today.
A statement which appears to be from the ferry operator posted on Twitter by Hull Labour MP Karl Turner said it “will be making a major announcement today”.
This will “secure the long-term viability of P&O Ferries”, it added.
Regretfully, P&O Ferries services are unable to run for the next few hours. Our Port Teams will guide you and travel will be arranged via an alternative operator.
We apologise for the inconvenience this will have on your journey plans.
— P&O Ferries (@POferries) March 17, 2022
The statement continued: “To facilitate this announcement all our vessels have been asked to discharge their passengers and cargo and standby for further instructions.
“This means we’re expecting all our ports to experience serious disruption today.”
P&O Ferries wrote on Twitter that those hoping to travel will be guided to an alternative operator with services “unable to run for the next few hours”.
Government ‘concerned’ at suspension
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said his officials will be having “urgent discussions” with P&O Ferries as he expressed concern at the suspension of sailings.
Shadow transport minister Mike Kane said in the House of Commons: “Worrying news has just broken that P&O Ferries have been called to port as DP World, their owners, seek the long-term viability of this ferry company.
“Major disruption is expected.Can the Secretary of State update the House on any discussions he’s had with DP World, P&O Ferries of any potential redundancies, and any redundancies that may happen we don’t want those crews replaced by foreign cheap labour.”
Mr Shapps replied: “I am concerned with this news which is breaking on P&O Ferries. I understand they have temporarily paused their operations and that’s causing disruption at the short straits – Calais-Dover – as well as some other ports.
“I’m working with the Kent Resilience Forum and I’ve just instructed them to become intricately involved and other partners in this, and we’ll be taking steps later today – including ensuring that my officials will be having urgent discussions with P&O about the situation, particularly of concern for their workers.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he would allow an “emergency statement” from the Government on Thursday if needed.
Follows 2020 warning of mass redundancies
The company, which transports passengers and freight, is owned by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World.
It operates these four routes: Dover to Calais; Hull to Rotterdam; Liverpool to Dublin; and Cairnryan, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland.
.@POferries have apparently instructed their crews both ratings and officers to tie up vessel’s as they are making a ‘major’ announcement today. This is troubling for crews and their families. I am in contact with ratings and officer unions regarding this. pic.twitter.com/W2Kh5WNval
— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) March 17, 2022
A route that previously operated between Hull and Zeebrugge, Belgium, was axed in January 2021.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, P&O Ferries warned in May 2020 that around 1,100 workers could lose their jobs as part of a plan to make the business “viable and sustainable”.