Swedish ferry firm Stena Line will furlough 600 employees and make 150 redundant across the United Kingdom and Ireland, it said today, as a result of the impact of the new coronavirus on the volume of traffic on its routes.
"This urgent measure is an unavoidable response to the on-going global COVID-19 crisis, that has had a hugely damaging effect on travel and transport across Europe," the privately held company said in a statement.
The company said it was experiencing a huge decline in travel bookings and freight volumes and that passenger figures were not expected recover until well into 2021.
"As a result of the significant reduction in revenue, the firm is forced to take tough decisions in order to cut costs and ensure that their vital supply lines of essential goods to the UK and Ireland are protected," it said.
Those who have been furloughed will keep 80% of their salaries, with the company making up the difference in circumstances where the Irish and UK Government schemes don't cover the full amount.
Both shore-based and sea-based employees will be impacted by the furlough decision and redundancies and consultation with unions has begun. The company has already laid off 950 staff in Scandinavia.
"The COVID-19 crisis has meant that Stena Line is experiencing a significant decline in passenger and freight volumes across all its 20 European routes. We are having to make some very difficult decisions, that we hoped we would never have to make." says Ian Hampton, Director, Stena Line.
"In order to secure the continuity of our freight operations, we have no choice but to reduce our costs."
"We are committed to keep vital supply lines open for UK and Ireland. Regrettably we must furlough employees on temporary paid leave and make redundancies, as we adjust to this new reality."
"We will do everything in our means to ensure essential supply lines stay operational during what is a very difficult time for the company and the countries that we serve."
Stena employs 2,500 people in the UK and Ireland, with 252 crossing a week on the Irish Sea.