Red Funnel suffered a loss of nearly £ 25million during the Covid crisis


FERRY operator Red Funnel suffered a loss of nearly £ 25million last year and laid off staff as the Covid crisis hit demand.

The Southampton-based company says tourist interest in the Isle of Wight has since recovered – but suburban and routine travel remains low.

Red Funnel, which operates high-speed car ferries and catamarans between Southampton and Cowes, reported an operating loss of £ 24.7million, up from £ 8.48million in 2019.

Revenue fell 42.5% to £ 32.28million, the company’s accounts show.

A layoff program saw the company cut the equivalent of more than 38 full-time jobs. The Red Jet high-speed catamaran was suspended for 72 days.

Managing Director Fran Collins said: “At the lowest point, volumes fell to three percent of the previous year’s levels for private vehicles and two percent for high-speed service. Freight volumes remained more resilient, falling to 44% of the previous year’s volumes in April 2020, reflecting the vital service Red Funnel provides to the Isle of Wight. ”

The company received a government-backed coronavirus business interruption loan of £ 5million in December 2020, which it repaid after raising more funds from investors.

The year also saw the company suffer a cyberattack that took its reservation system out of service for four days.

Fran Collins said in a statement: “The impact of Covid has been a huge challenge for both our business and the travel industry at large, and this is reflected in our 2020 financial statements. difficult, we have worked hard to continue essential services, making difficult decisions to ensure our resilience.

‘Temporary government support helped protect the services, with emergency funding and the passage of legislation that temporarily amended UK competition law to allow the island’s three ferry operators to work together to maintain key services, including the transportation of food, medical supplies and freight. the worst of the pandemic.

“As we look forward to a period of upturn for many travel and tourism businesses, we have been delighted to welcome more visitors traveling to the island, with the growing popularity of UK stays. In our 160th year in business, it is encouraging that UK vacations are still in high demand. However, daily and routine trips to and from the island remain low, and we still see significantly reduced demand levels for the majority of our Red Jet services. ”

The year saw the company achieve for the first time gender equality on its board of directors with the appointment of Lenna Lakes as COO, alongside Fran Collins and COO. human Debbie Reed.

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