Stormy seas for Stena Line freight during virus pandemic

Stena Line, a ferry line which operates from Harwich International Port, had to furlough 600 employees and make 150 staff members redundant in April.

Recently, the company has been forced to reduce sailings between Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands, as well as across the rest of its network.

But earlier in May the Government announced Harwich International Port would be in line for a slice of a £35 million scheme to protect vital freight routes.

Stena Line's Harwich to Rotterdam and Harwich to Hoek van Holland are two of 16 routes run by six operators which are in line to net some of the funding - but a funding figure has not yet been revealed.

Ian Hampton, director of Stena Line, said: "Without the provision of the funding the UK Government, then a further reduction in services and additional redundancies were inevitable.

"We recognise, as does the Government, that our network of routes provide vital supplies, such as medical, food and consumable resources that are essential to the United Kingdom."

He added: "The subsidy support given is for a very limited time period and only covers a small part of the financial deficit on some of our routes.

"However, this aid does give us some assistance and helps us provide sailings that are essential for freight flows, ensuring the continued supply of essential goods to and from the UK."

The funding will not reverse some of the redundancies which were announced in April.

A Stena Line spokesman said: "Most of the redundancies related to our travel passenger business, which is significant down and is unlikely to return to previous levels for a significant number of months.

"This funding relates to safeguarding freight only."

The money will not enable the company to reduce charges to freight customers either.

The spokesman added: "The purpose of the funding is only to secure the continuation of some freight routes.

"It goes a small way towards covering some of the losses we are seeing in our business, which have been compounded by not only the removal of most of our passenger trade, but also a large drop in freight volumes.

"Our vessels are now predominantly being used for freight only."

Source: Clacton Gazette