SeaFrance suspends ferry services pending court ruling

SeaFrance has four ferries sailing between Dover and Calais

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SeaFrance has suspended its Dover to Calais ferries for 48 hours ahead of a decision on Wednesday on its future.

The French ferry company said it had halted its scheduled services to "safeguard ships, passengers and crew".

It said it was "conscious of the inconvenience this situation is causing and we apologise for this".

It comes after the European Commission rejected a rescue plan for the firm, ruling that a €200m (£176m) bailout from the French Government was illegal.

It stated that the rescue plan by French railway operator SNCF breached state aid rules.

SeaFrance has four ferries sailing between Dover and Calais, carrying more than 3.5 million passengers each year.

'Competitive environment'

A ruling on the future of the company will be made at the Tribunal of Commerce in Paris.

It has to decide whether to sell SeaFrance to one of two interested parties or declare the company no longer viable.

Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Deal and Dover, said it was important to retain a "competitive environment" within the Port of Dover.

"Also, SeaFrance accounts for nearly 200 jobs in Dover and around Dover. I think it's really important that we have a stable future for those livelihoods," he said.

Meanwhile, P&O ferries has submitted a formal complaint to the EU Competition Commission in Brussels saying it is concerned the assets of SeaFrance could be sold by the French authorities at less than the market value.

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