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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 10:18 GMT
'Many' jobs lost as ferries stop
Hoverspeed Sea Cat ferry
Hoverspeed employs 102 staff in Dover and about 60 more in Europe
Cross-Channel ferry operator Hoverspeed is to end its service from Dover to Calais, resulting in the loss of "many" jobs, it confirmed on Friday.

The company, which is owned by Sea Containers, said it could no longer sustain losses on the English Channel.

Despite crossings increasing by 17% this year, it said there remained surplus capacity on the route.

Hoverspeed runs two Seacat fast ferries between Dover and Calais, employing 102 staff in Kent and about 60 in Europe.

The regrettable decision to cease operations has not been taken lightly and it is a sad moment
Hoverspeed spokesman

Its last scheduled sailing is the 1730 GMT crossing from Dover, returning from Calais at 2015 on Monday 7 November.

The company said a "dramatic" increase in the price of fuel - up 54% from last year - was also a factor in its decision.

"This, coupled with a diminishing market and less retail opportunities, have been the principal causes of our financial problems," said a spokesman.

"The regrettable decision to cease operations has not been taken lightly and it is a sad moment," said the spokesman.

Discussions were held with staff on both sides of the Channel during a 30-day consultation period which ended on Monday.

The company paid tribute to employees for their hard work, flexible working practices and effort over the years.

"We shall be looking at various options as to how we may assist those employees who may now face redundancy," the spokesman said.

'Extreme disappointment'

Shipping union Numast said 75 jobs would be lost in Kent, with about two dozen staff being kept on to maintain the Seacat vessels until a decision was made about their redeployment.

Spokesman Andrew Linnington said the closure was not unexpected.

"But that doesn't in any way mitigate the extreme disappointment we feel that it has come to this.

"There has been a complete disregard for the employees throughout all this."

He said it was "absolutely appalling" that the redundancies would take place just before Christmas.

Passengers with bookings after Monday are being contacted and offered alternative crossings with other operators.

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