Published: 09:30, 26 May 2021
| Updated: 10:47, 26 May 2021
Two rival ferry operators will make freight space available to each other on their ships.
P&O Ferries and DFDS want to help reduce waiting times for lorry drivers after the economic effects of coronavirus.
Under a space charter agreement, announced yesterday (Tuesday), lorries can arrive at either Dover or Calais and board the next available sailing, regardless of which of the two companies operates that ferry.
David Stretch, chief executive of P&O Ferries, said: “After the pandemic the best way to ensure that we can continue to run vital freight services is to build on our relationship with DFDS and enter this agreement
“It will ensure the continued resilience of the principal UK-EU trade route on which thousands of businesses and millions of consumers rely.
"It will also maintain service levels for our customers by reducing the time drivers spend waiting at the ports.
"This gives them access to a departure every 36 minutes and reduces gate-to-gate journey times by an estimated 30 minutes.”
The Dover Strait is the single busiest route for trade between Britain and the EU.
The agreement, which starts this summer, covers all eight ships on the Dover-Calais route.
These include the P&O-owned Spirit of Britain, Spirit of France, Pride of Canterbury, Pride of Kent and Pride of Burgundy and the DFDS-owned Cote des Flandres, Cote des Dunes and Calais Seaways.
The agreement has been welcomed by the Port of Dover.
It said there was a consistent period of smooth operations following the end of the Brexit Transition Period on New Year's Eve and there had been continual services throughout the pandemic.
Doug Bannister, chief executive, Port of Dover, said: “Developing the ferry product by maximising choice, capacity, flexibility and resilience in this way is a fantastic demonstration by the ferry operators of how the Dover route is responding to renewed market confidence.
"We look forward to seeing the benefits of this announcement being realised as the port and ferry operators continue to support the UK in getting back to normal and driving future economic success across the nation from Dover.”