P&O Ferries suspends all services and tells customers to find alternative travel

P&O Ferries has announced that all services have been suspended this weekend with customers told to find another operator to travel with – despite previously stating that business was set to resume.

The scandal-hit ferry company has canceled all operations since March, after its decision to sack 800 staff members and replace them with agency workers sparked national outrage.

A post to Twitter account P&O Updates read: “All P&O Ferries Passenger Services are suspended this weekend.

“For travel 8/9/10th April please re-book directly with another operator before arriving at the port.”

The operator stated yesterday that they were ready to resume services this weekend, but in a u-turn today announced that they are already cancelled, the Mirror reports.

The announcement will undoubtedly exacerbate the logjam on the M20 in which Operation Brock has been instigated, Kent Online reports.

Today, which is the eighth day of travel disruption in Kent, there is a massive queue of traffic waiting to get into the Port of Dover.

Rival DFDS has warned of delays of up to two hours on its services from Dover to Calais and that it is not accepting P&O customers.

Lorries queued in Operation Brock on the M20 on Thursday.

Chris Parker, DFDS director, said it was running ferries as “fast as we can”.

The ferry operator has more than 40,000 passengers booked on its services from Dover this weekend, a 50% increase on last weekend.

There is an anticipated 30,000,000 expected to hit the roads ahead of the Easter holidays.

Around 13.6million are expected on Good Friday alone.

With travel chaos set to continue this weekend as thousands of holidaymakers and truckers face further delays heading to the channel port of Dover, fears are mounting that the local council is set to declare a “major incident”.

In an open letter Dover District Council leader, Trevor Bartlett, said the town would “not tolerate another weekend of gridlock”.

Mr Bartlett added: “We will be monitoring the situation closely throughout the weekend and I will not hesitate to authorize DDC officers to declare a major incident if we see signs of the sort of congestion witnessed last weekend.”

Drivers try to avoid Operation Brock on the M20 has caused heavy traffic on surrounding roads.
Drivers try to avoid Operation Brock on the M20 has caused heavy traffic on surrounding roads.

Declaring a major incident would “force the issue” and “trigger a more robust response” from authorities, Mr Bartlett said.

Passengers heading to the port are being advised to leave “plenty of extra time”.

National Highways said: “All drivers planning to travel in or through Kent should plan ahead, follow diversion signs, check before they travel and leave plenty of extra time for their journey.”

DFDS ferries is reporting delays of two hours on its services from Dover to Calais and is not accepting P&O customers.

The company’s director of capacity, Chris Parker, urged people not to travel to the port unless they had booked in advance.

DFDS had been taking P&O customers, left without transport when the firm sacked 800 staff and canceled its services in March.

The update was announced on P&O's Twitter account.
The update was announced on P&O’s Twitter account.

But It will not take these passengers over the “peak weekend”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Mr Parker said: “We cannot take a full load of our own passengers and then have more passengers from P&O, we simply don’t have the capacity.

“We made the decision that we would be better off to focus on our own passengers, and not disappoint P&O passengers arriving at the port.

“The worst thing is to have people turning up and for us to say ‘we’re really sorry but we don’t have the space for you’.

“It’s unfortunate.”

All six DFDS ships are running on Friday at maximum capacity, with 54 sailings across the Channel.

Mr Parker urged people to make advanced bookings and not simply “turn up at the port”.

He said: “We will not be able to process you.”

A 23-mile stretch of the M20 in Kent remains closed as part of Operation Brock.

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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