Friday, January 15, 2010

Portsmouth To Bilbao RoRo Ferry To Be Withdrawn

Spanish to UK Service to Finish
Shipping News Feature

SPAIN / UK – P&O Ferries have announced that they intend not to replace the Pride of Bilbao when the charter expires on the vessel in September, 2010. The freight and passenger ferry has served on the Portsmouth-to-Bilbao run for fifteen years, but the need for replacement and existing financial losses on the route mean that the service is to be discontinued.

P&O’s Chief Executive, Helen Deeble, said that: “We have examined every option very carefully and have been trying for more than three years to find a suitable replacement ship in order to continue the service profitably. The Pride of Bilbao has served us well but is now an old ship nearing the end of her commercial life and needs to be replaced.

“However, we have reached the sad conclusion that such a replacement vessel is not currently available and as this loss-making route is unable to fund the cost of a new purpose-built ship we have no alternative other than to close it.”

P&O did confirm that the Portsmouth-Bilbao service would continue with bookings up to and including the 27th of September to be run to schedule. Customers who are booked on the service after this date are to be offered refunds or alternative travel options. The vessel is on charter from the Irish Continental Group who are looking at disposing of the ship.

Staff affected by the cut, which includes 252 crew from the ship and 12 shore staff at the Bilbao office will be offered alternative positions within the company where possible.

(pic: The Pride of Bilbao © P&O Ferries)