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Friday, January 15, 1999 Published at 15:42 GMT

Business: The Company File

Dieppe ferry service ditched

Workers will be all at sea if the service is shut down

P&O Stena Line, the cross channel ferry operator, has decided to end its loss-making service between Newhaven in the UK and Dieppe in France at the end of this month.

The decision will cost 148 jobs, the company said. Eighty shore jobs will be lost at Newhaven in East Sussex, while 68 will go in Dieppe.

However the jobs of another 118 French seafarers working on the route have been saved.

Officials from the ferry company made the decision after holding a meeting with unions.

Crippling competition

John O'Donnell, chairman of the Newhaven Chambers of Commerce: 'The service is viable'
The Newhaven-Dieppe service has been under threat for some time. Competition from the Channel Tunnel has resulted in a sharp drop in the number of passengers embarking on the four-hour ferry trip.

The route is estimated to be running up annual losses of around £8m and has cost £25m since 1995. The abolition of European duty-free sales this summer could hit profits further.

Over the past five years, passenger numbers have fallen from about 1.2m to 760,000.

Tunnel vision

P&O Stena now only operates a single ferry on the route, the Stena Cambria, carrying up to 1,200 passengers and almost 300 cars. The ferry will make its final crossing from Newhaven at 2130 on Sunday January 31.

The opening of the Channel Tunnel has caused huge problems for the ferry operators, forcing them to slash prices to attract customers.

The overcrowded cross-channel market has also caused operators to cut back on capacity.

The company was created last year by the merger of the ferry operations of UK transport group P&O and Scandinavian group Stena.

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