Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southsea to Ryde hovercraft crossings cut back over technical problems

Solent Flyer hovercraft
Image caption The Solent Flyer (pictured) and the Island Flyer came into service during the summer

Hovercraft crossings on the Solent are being cut back due to ongoing technical issues with two new vehicles.

Hovertravel said it would operate a "one craft service" between Southsea and Ryde until the end of February.

Managing director Neil Chapman said resolving operational issues had "taken considerably longer than we had planned".

The Solent Flyer and Island Flyer, costing £10m, were launched in the summer.

When the vessels were named by sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie, the company said the investment would "improve passenger comfort through speedier and easier boarding, a quieter ride and better visibility".

However, "bedding in" problems led to cancellations and refunds offered to customers in October and November.

Mr Chapman said: "It's clear to us all the implementation of the two new craft has had several operational issues, and whilst these are resolvable it's taking considerably longer than we had planned.

"In addition, we are managing the continued use of the existing craft."

Its current Island Express craft is also being repaired, leaving only Freedom 90 to operate the reduced timetable.

Hovertravel has been running ferries between Southsea and Ryde since 1965.

Image copyright Hovertravel
Image caption Its Island Express hovercraft is currently out of service

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