P&O Suspends ferry services

March 18, 2022 /

Roughly 2.5 million goods vehicles use the port of Dover each year. But with P&O cancelling sailings and making 800 staff redundant abruptly, what happens to the thousands of vehicles waiting to cross the Channel?

Cancelling Ferry Services

On 17th March, P&O made an announcement that they’d be making 800 of their staff redundant and cancelling all ferry sailings for a number of days in order to plug a reported £100 million hole in their finances. With P&O accounting for nearly 50% (17 out of 35) sailings from Dover each day, this is going to lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of goods vehicles sitting on the roads to and from the ports on both sides of the Channel.


While most goods waiting to cross the Channel will be fine, there will be some urgent, particularly perishable goods, that will be waiting on roads outside the ports instead of making their way to customers. This will almost certainly result in the cost of goods increasing for a short time, but this might not be the end of it.

The sacked staff were told via a pre-recorded message that was delivered at 11am on the morning of the 17th. This was without the consultation of the unions and may result in strikes which will likely cause further backlogs. With Dover to Calais ferries accounting for 15% of all UK trade with Europe, it’s likely that there will be a short term hit to big and small businesses alike.


Stepping into the gap, in the South East of England, will be both competing ferry companies like DFDS and Irish Ferries, as well as the Channel Tunnel. Although how they’ll juggle the space with existing bookings is unclear. EuroTunnel would likely be in a better position as it's reported that they have spare capacity, but this is unlikely for the other ferry companies.

Also unclear is how the new customs documentation, that’s been required since the UK left the European Union, will work when moving over to another service. This is where freight handlers step up and manage your import and export.

If you’ve been affected by this, please get in touch and we’ll be able to work on a solution for you.