Belfast Telegraph

Ferry firm suspends fast service

A major ferry operator is pulling its fast service between Ireland and Britain next month.

Stena Line said its HSS craft will be suspended on the Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route from September 13 until later next year.

Michael McGrath, area director for Stena Line's Irish Sea services, blamed the cutbacks on the high cost of operating the two-hour sailing.

"The fast craft service operating between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead has traded at a financial loss for several years," he said. "The high operating costs of the HSS Stena Explorer, particularly in terms of fuel costs and gas turbine maintenance, has been a major factor in this and despite all our attempts to reduce operating costs over the last few years, it has not been possible to return the route to profitability."

Stena said the high-speed HSS craft will now operate as a seasonal service only. The operator will continue to run two traditional ferries year-round between Dublin Port and Holyhead.

"The vast majority of revenue from the fast craft service is generated from car and coach guests and is received during the peak summer trading period," said Mr McGrath.

"We regret that this decision will have an impact amongst our ship's personnel and our port operations staff in Dun Laoghaire but this is a decision that has to be taken."

Stena said 88 staff working on the high-speed route will be affected, including 24 involved in Dun Laoghaire travel centre and ship handling as well as general operatives and clerical staff. Another 55 crew members working on board will also be impacted.

The company is to begin a 30-day consultation period with trade unions Siptu, RMT and Nautilus.

A Stena spokesman said workers would be offered voluntary redundancy or redeployment within the company, but declined to say how many lay-offs were expected.

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