Threat of more chaos over Easter holidays as P&O ferries remain stuck in ports Business

P&O Ferries’ plan to restart Dover-Calais crossings in time for Easter is under threat as a row escalates between the government and the Dubai-owned operator.

Whitehall sources said P&O ships could remain moored in ports until May after failing to pass stringent security checks.

Further delays would raise the stakes in a dispute between Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and the operator.

P&O announced last week that it would resume crossings between Dover and Calais in time for Easter. He admitted that this schedule would be “subject to regulatory approval”.

The company has three ferries moored in Dover and another in dry dock at the Port of Kent.

Inspections by the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA), a division of the Department for Transport, usually take two days. This means that P&O ships are unlikely to be operational by Easter, even if presented to authorities on Monday.

Late on Friday, the MCA released the European causeway after holding the ship in its Northern Ireland port last month.

An MCA spokesperson said: ‘There are no further P&O Ferries inspections scheduled for the weekend.

P&O has previously accused the MCA of “an unprecedented level of rigor” in its inspections. The authority replied, “We inspect without fear or favor.”

One of the Dover ferries, the Pride of Kent, has been detained by authorities after failing security checks 10 days ago. A Whitehall source said it was a significant setback and would take some time to fix.

“If your whole safety management system is down, it [Easter] is really optimistic,” they said.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-09 11:00:00

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