Ferry services resume after Calais port blockade

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Media captionPassenger Richard Hill : "2,000 plus passengers on board, the seating is very limited - people are starting to get weary"

Ferry services have resumed at the Port of Calais following a fresh protest by former workers of dissolved ferry company MyFerryLink.

Earlier passengers faced delays as protesters used lifeboats to stop ferries entering or leaving the port.

DFDS Seaways said its services were now running to schedule, while P&O said its services had resumed but faced delays.

A P&O spokesman said the port's closure had been "very unsatisfactory" and should not be allowed to happen again.

Tony Lodge said: "It's down to the French authorities and the port of Calais to keep that Port open, to prevent such issues and events taking place.

"There are two MyFerryLink ships holed up in Calais, they do act as a draw for some of this. We'd like to see some of those vessels moved and taken out of the equation."

The P&O ferry The Pride of Kent was allowed to disembark lorries and cars at about 01:20 local time (00:20 BST) and the operator's Spirit of Britain left Calais a short time later.

P&O had told waiting Bank Holiday travellers: "We regret to inform you that currently there are no movements permitted in or out of the port for any ferries.

"Protesting crew from the recently dissolved My Ferry Link has blocked the port entrance."

During the disruption DFDS Seaways said its Malo Seaways ship was waiting for permission to enter the Port of Calais.

The company said it was running to Dunkirk with an extra sailing, and advised those booked with Calais departures to head to Dunkirk.

Why are MyFerryLink workers protesting?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Striking employees of MyFerryLink previously blocked the access to the Channel Tunnel with burning tyres
  • Eurotunnel bought three ships from SeaFrance for £51m when it went out of business in 2012 and leased them to MyFerryLink
  • In June 2014 Eurotunnel was banned from operating MyFerryLink after the Competition Commission concluded it controlled too much of the cross-Channel passenger trade
  • In June 2015 Eurotunnel announced it was selling its two MyFerryLink ferries to Danish cross-Channel competitor DFDS Seaways
  • That month workers from MyFerryLink began striking, and blockaded the port of Calais over the sale and possible job cuts
  • MyFerryLink cross-Channel services ceased on 1 July

'Standing still'

Nicholas Bernier, a passenger on a ferry heading to France, spoke to the BBC while his ferry was halted.

"I'm roughly about two miles from the Port of Calais. We've got about three ferries standing still in front of us and what we were told is that the port is blocked by two lifeboats," he said.

Richard Hill, on the Spirit of Britain, said while it was unable to leave the port: "We are stuck on the ferry along with 2,000 others; luckily we have a seat.

"The seating is very limited now and people are starting to get weary."

Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, tweeted her "regret" that the port has been closed and requested firm action was taken.

Eurotunnel, which operates and manages the Channel Tunnel, said it was only accepting passengers with pre-booked tickets on rail services.

It tweeted: "We are unable to sell tickets to any non-reserved customers from Calais tonight."

Employees from MyFerryLink have held previous protests, including last month when delays were caused after tyres were set alight near a main road.

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