P&O Ferries, which caused outrage on March 17 by laying off its entire UK crew without notice, hopes to resume services on the key Dover-Calais route next week. The crew of its ships should be made up of new temporary workers.
A spokesman for the ferry company said: “From this weekend, P&O Ferries is preparing to resume services on a number of vital routes.
“P&O has worked closely with regulators to ensure our vessels can navigate safely. P&O is delighted to welcome back vital services.
“We expect two of our vessels to be ready to sail the Dover-Calais route by next week, subject to regulatory approval, namely both the Pride of Kent and The spirit of Brittany between Dover-Calais.
Both ships are docked at Dover Cruise Terminal, along with a third, Spirit of France.
P&O also expects to be able to operate European roadway between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in south-west Scotland; and Pride of Hullwhich sails between Hull and Rotterdam.
The spokesperson said: “For customers still affected by wider disruption, we are refunding any passengers booked to travel with us to whom we have been unable to provide alternative services.
“Customers can contact our customer service by email or phone for a refund. Anyone whose trip has been interrupted by P&O will also receive a free trip to use on a future trip with us, which can be taken later in the year.
This weekend is expected to see a crunch on the Dover-Calais route, which is by far the busiest ferry route between the UK and mainland Europe.
At present, DFDS carries all P&O Ferries customers on its vessels. But DFDS has warned that there will be no space available for P&O Ferries passengers on Friday, Saturday or Sunday April 8-10.
It tells travelers who have booked with P&O: “Please do not proceed to port without a confirmed reservation, contact P&O Ferries for alternative travel arrangements.”
But P&O is simply telling people to book a Channel crossing before heading to port.
Last weekend – the start of the Easter getaway for many British families – roads in east Kent were blocked as traffic queued up to access the port of Dover. The coming weekend should be even busier.