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Brittany Ferries axes routes as passengers cancel crossings due to quarantine

French ferry firm will lay up two ships and cut sailing frequencies, with demand for autumn sailings ‘extremely weak’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 19 August 2020 12:35 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

After 35,000 Brittany Ferries passengers cancelled or delayed travel plans at the weekend, due to the reimposition of quarantine from France, the firm has announced deep cuts to its network.

The long-standing routes from Portsmouth to both St-Malo in France and Bilbao in Spain have been dropped, and on other links there will be fewer sailings.

The French ferry firm says forward demand for autumn sailings is “extremely weak”.

Brittany Ferries currently has eight ships, but two vessels – Armorique and Bretagne – will be laid up, while a third, Etretat, will not return to service as planned.

While Bretagne is over 30 years old, Armorique did not enter service until 2009.

The four remaining vessels will operate a much-reduced service: from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and Le Havre, and from Plymouth to Roscoff and Santander.

Christophe Mathieu, director general of Brittany Ferries, said: “We warned over the weekend that schedule changes were likely, as quarantine measures have led to a significant drop in demand for our services.

“This is not something we want to do. However, in the context of a terrible summer season we have no choice but to consolidate sailings that, by virtue of lack of passenger numbers, are uneconomic to run.

“These extraordinary decisions are regrettable and we apologise in advance to all those whose travel plans will be disrupted.”

Around 50,000 passengers with existing bookings will be affected by the schedule changes.

Travellers arriving in the UK from France are now obliged to self-isolate at home for two weeks, because of concern about French rates of coronavirus infection.

On a journey from Germany, the only way to avoid quarantine is to drive without stopping through France – but the Kent-bound crossing must be made by Eurotunnel, not by ferry, to avoid the obligation.

Quarantine now applies to all four Continental countries currently served by ferry from the UK: Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

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