SeaFrance sinks

By | Category: Travel news

With the announcement today that Sea France has gone into liquidation, what can passengers expect in terms of service and prices?
SeaFrance carried about 3.5 million passengers per year between Dover and Calais operating with three ships. Last November, Sea France suspended all sailings due to the economic situation and it was thought that another company – P&O, DFDS or LD – would make a bid for the company. As an alternative, employees developed a co-operative to buy the ferry for a nominal sum.
All have come to naught and now there is a fear that capacity on the channel will decline, and ferry operators maximise their opportunities by raising their prices. It might also be that Le Shuttle looks to increase its fares as well.
The people to suffer, other than employees of the company, will be those might have forward bookings but SeaFrance says refunds will be available. The other sufferer will be Dover Port Authority who will lose at least 20% of their sailings. For passengers, Dover-Calais will be serviced by P&O and DFDS (doesn’t carry foot passengers at present) so competition will not really exist from Dover for foot passengers in order to keep costs down. So far the port authority has made no comment.
Last year 12,764,699 people travelled via Dover which was a small drop over 2010. This year you could see a substantial drop unless all other services can pick up most of the passengers Sea France would have carried.
What happens now? It is rumoured that Eurotunnel is interested in buying the ferries and creating a new company. Now that SeaFrance has gone into liquidation, the rump that can be bought from the liquidators does become more interesting for purchasers. They will have no debt to shoulder and they can create new contracts of employment, new staffing levels (last November there were talks of 400 redundancies) and new operating methods. It wouldn’t surprise me if son of SeaFrance came about before Summer.

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