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Troubled SeaFrance, which has been losing money on the Dover to Calais route for some time, has been given more time to find a buyer by a court in France. It remains in administration and will continue to operate until 28th January. The court rejected a bid of £5m from rival operator DFDS (who operate the Dover to Dunkerque route, amongst others) after P&O objected to the low value of the offer.
Scheduled services were paused for 48 hours to “safeguard ships, passengers, and crew” pending the decision from the court. There were fears that unions would instigate action and SeaFrance felt it necessary to withdraw service temporarily.
SeaFrance employs 1650 people on both sides of the Channel and has been suffering because of competition from low cost airlines and Eurotunnel. It carries around 3.5 million passengers a year. P&O is the only other ferry operator currently running ferries between Dover and Calais and objected to the DFDS bid on the ground that the offer was too low considering the assets of SeaFrance.
After it rejected the DFDS bid, the court invited improved offers which must be submitted by 12th December. Hopefully a buyer will be found to safeguard jobs and competition on the route.