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breaking news

Pentland Ferries announces service changes in wake of pandemic

Pentland Ferries managing director Andrew Banks.

Pentland Ferries is to temporarily suspend service for a week in February and close its Gill’s Bay office for a month from January 1, as a result of financial losses suffered due to the pandemic.

According to managing director, Andrew Banks, the company has been forced to review its operations and make some short-term changes to safeguard the service beyond the pandemic, following a 70 per cent reduction in business.

Mr Banks said: “Since the pandemic started to impact on our business in March 2020, we have received government assistance to cover approximately 10 per cent of operational outgoings. Meanwhile, our business has been reduced by approximately 70 per cent.

“This has hit us very hard, particularly since we are not in receipt of the government subsidy that other transport operators enjoy.”

Services on the St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay route will be suspended for a week from Sunday, February 21, when MV Alfred will go into dry dock. The service will resume on Sunday,  February 28.

“We regret the suspension of service and apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused,” Mr Banks said.

“The MV Alfred must go into drydock for annual surveys. We had planned to cover the MV Alfred’s absence with the MV Pentalina, but we have managed to negotiate a slight reduction in harbour fees for the MV Pentalina’s current berthing at Hatston Pier, which is subject to our not using the ship for business purposes for a three-month period.

“The harbour fees for the MV Pentalina have had a significant impact on our business throughout the pandemic and we simply cannot afford to lose the relief, which has been very difficult to obtain.”

In another cost-saving exercise, the Gills Bay office will be closed with effect from January 1, for one month, after which it will be reviewed.

Mr Banks added: “The purpose of this is to reduce costs and minimise staff exposure to the virus, during what is a particularly quiet period.

“During this time, all calls will be directed to our St Margaret’s Hope office customer services team, so there will be no impact on passenger service. We regret that there will be no indoor waiting or toilet facilities at Gills Bay during the closure.

“We are hopeful that by making these short-term business alterations now, we can safeguard the business through the coming months, and be ready to welcome passengers back on board safely, when conditions allow.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support during this incredibly difficult time and very much look forward to welcoming you back to our service during the better months to come.”