P&O closes Liverpool-Dublin route over dock unavailability

A P&O ferry at Liverpool

Ferry giant P&O has announced plans to close one of its routes towards the end of the year.

The Liverpool-Dublin route will be axed due to the unavailability of a berth in the Merseyside city for next year, the company said.

A statement said: “Without agreement with the port owner to provide a berth in Liverpool, it is impossible for P&O Ferries to continue operating on this route.

“Extensive negotiations with the owner of our Liverpool site to extend our lease at the port or find an alternative site for our Liverpool-Dublin service to operate from have been unsuccessful.

“P&O Ferries is committed to serving our Irish Sea customers and has explored all options to continue sailing on this route.

“Unfortunately, despite utmost efforts by P&O Ferries to find a viable solution, no suitable alternative has been offered that would enable us to maintain the current service into 2024.

“We are saddened by our forced withdrawal from this route, which will reduce competition and the choice of sailings available to customers on a crossing where there is currently only one alternative operator.”

The route is served by two P&O ferries making 24 sailings a week and is mainly used to transport freight between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

P&O intends to redeploy the two boats on other routes.

It said: “We are now beginning a consultation process with our employees affected by the intended closure of this service.

“We will offer support to affected colleagues to find alternative employment within our business, or where that is not possible, help to find employment elsewhere.

“We have also worked to ensure that where possible our customers affected by the intended closure of the Liverpool-Dublin route can access alternative services with other operators.

“We remain fully committed to serving customers on our Irish Sea crossing between our ports in Larne and Cairnryan, where we recently celebrated our 50th year of operations, and on our network around the UK.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “P&O Ferries said they unlawfully sacked nearly 800 seafarers to protect jobs elsewhere in their UK operation.

“This latest attack on maritime jobs and skills proves that Tory ministers were wrong to believe P&O Ferries and its chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite.

“He along with his senior management team have shown that they are not only prepared to break employment law in order to please their owners in Dubai but that they cannot be trusted to operate economically vital RoPax ferry services, blaming everyone else but themselves for their abject failures.

“The British government should scrap any shipping contracts they have with P&O and begin the process of banning them from operating in UK waters, as a matter of urgency.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.