Stena Line to furlough 600 staff and make 150 redundant after large decline in bookings

Stena Line's new Edda boat, which it launched in Belfast in March.
Ryan McAleer

Stena Line is to furlough 600 staff and make 150 redundant across the UK and Ireland.

The ferry operator has already dropped 30 sailings from Belfast in response to the Covid-19 impact.

Despite the grounding of nearly all airline routes to Britain leaving ferry operators as the main connection to the north of England and Scotland, Stena Line said it has experienced a large decline in travel bookings and freight volumes.

It doesn’t expect passenger figures to recover until well into 2021.

Stena Line has already dropped its crossings between Belfast and Britain from 138 weekly sailings to 108. The ferry operator normally operates seven boats between Belfast and the ports of Cairnryan, Liverpool and Heysham.

Stena Line’s workforce on the island of Ireland currently stands at 1,650, but it’s unclear how the cuts will impact its Belfast operation, but the company said it will affect shored-based and sea-based employees on the Irish Sea crossings.

“We are having to make some very difficult decisions, that we hoped we would never have to make.” said Stena Line director Ian Hampton.

“In order to secure the continuity of our freight operations, we have no choice but to reduce our costs. We are committed to keep vital supply lines open for UK and Ireland.

“Regrettably we must furlough employees on temporary paid leave and make redundancies, as we adjust to this new reality. We will do everything in our means to ensure essential supply lines stay operational during what is a very difficult time for the company and the countries that we serve.” 

The Irish Government has already announced €15 million to support five ferry routes in the Republic during the ongoing crisis, but a similar package has yet to materialize in the north.

Stena Line said all furloughed staff will receive 80 per cent of their salaries. It said where the UK and Irish government schemes don’t cover the full amount, the remainder will be paid by the firm.

The company said it is still evaluating its operations in all regions and couldn’t rule out further furlough, redundancy or changes to its current sailing schedules or routes.

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